In a statement shocking for its perfunctory character, the Muscular Dystrophy Association announced on Thursday that Jerry Lewis would not appear on this year's telethon and that he would no longer act as the group's national chairman. Lewis has hosted the annual telethon since 1966. In a statement, MDA Chairman R. Rodney Howell said, "Jerry Lewis is a world-class humanitarian and we're forever grateful to him for his more than half century of generous service to MDA." He did not explain why Lewis was being dropped. The action stunned many show business personalities who had appeared on the telethon each year, "As a fellow comedian, it's really crappy the way they treated him," comedian Paul Rodriguez told the L os Angeles Times " The man is an institution. They should have found a better way to let him go."