By Aly Semigran
Updated September 06, 2011 at 02:24 PM EDT
Credit: Richard Cartwright/MDA/AP Images

Turns out the old showbiz saying “The show must go on,” applies to telethons as well. Yesterday’s 46th Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon marked the first without host Jerry Lewis since he stepped down as MDA’s national chairman in August, just three months after he’d announced he would no longer be emceeing the event, a duty he’d served since 1966.

So how did the six-hour long Labor Day mainstay fare without him? Judging by the numbers alone, pretty well. The marathon, which featured a series of new hosts, including — perhaps to the dismay of Lewis who slammed reality shows like American Idol and The Biggest Loser — Nigel Lythgoe, Alison Sweeney, Nancy O’Dell and Jann Carl (pictured) and guest appearances by Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, helped raise more than $61.4 million. That’s almost $2 million more than the 2010 telethon that turned out to be Lewis’ last.

Despite there being no surprise appearance by Lewis (How many of you tuned in for the faint hope that it might happen just to watch some inevitable awkwardness unfold?) or signature moments by the 85-year-old legend (like his rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”), the show still paid homage to him throughout, with pictures of The Nutty Professor actor on the set, a montage (featuring moments with “Jerry’s Kids”) and the hosts, including Lythgoe, thanking him for his years of generous service.

But, I’m curious PopWatchers, what made you tune in? Was it to see how the telethon would do without him or because you’d tired of Lewis’ act over the years and were ready to see someone new take over? Did the telethon feel different to you without Lewis, or more or less the same? How about the fact that it was only six-hours long instead of last year’s 20-plus? Did you donate to this year’s successful fund raising efforts? Share in the comments section below!

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