Another Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon has come and gone, and again I am compelled to watch it waiting for a train wreck. Now understand, that even though Jerry’s motive for working this event for nearly 40 years has never been explained, and his statements in defense of his “kids” border on the bizarre, it is still a good cause that focuses lots of attention on a disease that otherwise wouldn’t get any notice. That said, when Jerry announced that scientists told him a cure would still be found “within my lifetime,” my bud Marc Nelson and I were thinking it’s a safer bet that Jerry shouldn’t waste his money buying new calendars. Leaving aside the fact that Jerry looked like Mr. Creosote (and yes, it had to be the result of his pain-killing steroids; people in their 70s don’t gain weight like that), he was obviously in a great deal of pain. It’s tempting to say it would be typical of Jerry to exploit himself the way he exploited his kids for so long, but I suspect Jerry was more concerned that once he’s not on the show, bang goes the $60+ million it raises.
And after writing so much about Bob Hope, for whom the popular belief is that he slipped away quietly while surrounded by his loving family, there are millions of people, celebrities included for whom “their time” will come following several years of suffering. I had been re-reading Aristotle on “Happiness” for my Great Books club, where he raises the question of whether a man can be judged to have been “happy” only after his life is completed. I dunno. A lot of entertainers may have the adoration of millions, but does that count against living through the infirmities of advancing age or scars in one’s personal life? Just something to think about.
Other highlights from the telethon:
- Jerry’s son Gary Lewis doing a few numbers from his days with the Playboys. Actually good to see, as they were rumored to have been estranged.
- Charro! Y’know, she was a student of Andres Segovia and is conidered one of the world’s best flamenco guitarists, but in America, flamenco don’t get ya on the “Tonight Show.” She’s looking great for someone who’s either 52 or 62, and she dared to just play guitar with nary a “cuchi” to be uttered. Her choice of Ravel’s “Bolero” wasn’t that challenging, but I may check out the few albums she has in print.
- The local station on the “Love Network,” WGN Channel 9, produced one of the most irritating cutaway segments I’ve seen. When a corporate sponsor announced they would be matching phone pledges for the next several minutes, ‘GN spent that period in some sputtering special effect mode which looked like we were watching it through a web cam at 6 frames per second. All the while, the background music was usually that Beyoncé tune that might have been cool when it came out, but not after you’ve heard in a Pepsi commercial 500 times. And because the Cubs game was rain delayed, it went on several more hours than it would normally. But “entertainment” like is par for the course for Cub fans.