I missed my yearly serving of Labor Day cheese. No, not the deli slices that I didn’t get to melt on a nice burger because it rained Labor Day. I’m referring to the thick slice of slightly tangy, always well-aged cheese of the Love Network, Jerry’s Kids … the MDA Telethon.
Before I go any further, I apologize to anyone under 45 who may have landed on this post. I’m sorry that what I’m about to delve into may seem like ancient history.
Back in the deep dark 70s through the early 80s, the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon was appointment TV in the McCullough household (once 82 came along, the days around Labor Day weekend were the time of the annual trek North to drop yours truly off at SU).
I won’t go into the politics of an MDA Telethon sans Jerry Lewis (Ironically, MDA seems to have brought in more money in six hours w/out Jerry than 21 hours with). I’ll stay on the high road and simply look back at the schmaltzy memories of seeing the day’s top entertainers – some dropping by after a wrapping up a set at the Sands, the Desert Inn or elsewhere along the Strip – Frank, Sammy, Ella, Wayne Newton and of course the history making Martin and Lewis reunion of 76.
On any given year, the star-studded line up might include Julius LaRosa, Steve and Eydie, comics Charlie Callas, Rip Taylor and Nipsy Russell (a black guy rhyming, decades before rap). There were my father’s favorites Lola Falana and Charo (whose hips weren’t lying long before Shakira’s). Of course, sprinkled in between headliners might be some obscure lounge act or a teen idol or two. Who could forget Shaun (Da Do Run Run Run ) Cassidy?!?!?
Sadly, when Ed McMahon signed off and went to that big announcer’s booth in the sky, we were left with no one to cue the timpani drum and roll the tote board.
This year we did have a couple of vestiges of days past in Tony Orlando and Maureen (There’s Got to be a Morning After) McGovern.
Progress is (usually) a good thing and life must go on. Yes, it wouldn’t hurt to take some of the cheese out of my diet, but I’m not entirely ready to go vegan and I don’t think I’ll be adding this processed cheese product – the reengineered MDA Telethon to my iCal.