“Jerry Lewis’ slapstick brand of comedy has entertained audiences for decades, and his contributions to the entertainment industry are immeasurable,” said NAB president-CEO Gordon Smith. “We are honored to recognize not only his comedic innovation, but also his remarkable philanthropic efforts that have bettered the lives of thousands of children.”
The NAB laurel recognizes Lewis’ work as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, for which he has raised a reported $2 billion and created the nickname “Jerry’s Kids.” Lewis created the MDA Labor Day Telethon, which he hosted from 1952 to 2010.
The award puts Lewis in good company. Past honorees include Michael J. Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, President Ronald Reagan, Edward R. Murrow, Bob Hope, Walter Cronkite, Oprah Winfrey and Charles Osgood.
In recent years, however, Lewis has come under fire for making controversial comments about female comedians. He was also criticized for using a gay slur during the 2007 MDA telethon, for which he later apologized.
Lewis will receive the award on April 13, as part of the NAB’s annual confab in Las Vegas.