The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
According to custom, “the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is given periodically at the Academy Award ceremonies for outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes. It is named after screen actor Jean Hersholt, who served as the president of the Motion Picture Relief Fund for eighteen years. The award trophy is an ‘Oscar’ statuette. Past recipients have included producers, directors, writers and actors.”
This year, come Oscar time, no person is more deserving of finally being bestowed the humanitarian award as actor, comedian director, writer Jerry Lewis.
In a career that has spanned seven decades, from his first days as part of the Martin & Lewis comedy team (1946-1957), he has worked consistently and passionately for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, which he founded in 1966, and continues in his yearly Labor Day telethons aired for decades as well as off camera despite his advancing age. He has raised over two billion dollars that have been used to further scientific research to develop a breakthrough in neuromuscular research and patient care.
On his 40th Labor Day telethon in 2005, Lewis added Salvation Army fund raising for Hurricane Katrina victims to his usual MDA fund raising. He also hosted the French version of the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in 1987 and 1991.
As an actor/director he has amassed a resume of comedic films and dramatic performances, including experimenting with innovative camera techniques adopted and currently used by directors and technicians which should have garnished him a technical Oscar for those achievements. Yet the Academy has ignored his efforts and accomplishments to the industry.
Although he has been criticized by many in Hollywood for some of his outspoken and controversial statements, the body of work anyone does in life, must be balanced by the overall good one has achieved. Clearly, this talented man, humanitarian, and world citizen finally deserves Hollywood’s recognition. “Get it together Academy and do the right thing.”