Jerry Lewis announced on Monday that he is retiring as the longtime emcee of the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon. “As a labor of love, I’ve hosted the annual Telethon since 1966, and I’ll be making my final appearance on the show this year by performing my signature song, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’,” the legendary 85-year-old comedy entertainer said in a statement on the MDA website. “I’ll continue to serve MDA as its National Chairman – as I’ve done since the early 1950’s. I’ll never desert MDA and my kids.”

According to the MDA, Lewis has logged more than 900 hours helping the organization raise money to fund research for treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy and ALS. “It’s time for an all new Telethon era,” he added. “This year’s six hour prime-time Telethon on September 4 will be spectacular, and I’m thrilled to be part of it.” UPDATE: The cohosts for the 2011 show will be Nigel Lythgoe (American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance), Alison Sweeney (The Biggest Loser), Nancy O’Dell (Entertainment Tonight), and Jann Carl (Entertainment Tonight).