“Take His Money”

Ed McMahon worked for many years with Jerry Lewis in the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. His daughter Claudia worked for a year with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and she was able to let him know that yes, the money the telethon raised was put to good use. She told her father, “I’ve never seen like it. I’ve never had to say no to a patient’s request. Whatever they need—an electric wheelchair, a ramp built onto their home—the organization provides it for them without any red tape. It’s the most incredible thing.” Frank Sinatra once telephoned the telethon to donate $25,000, but the person answering the phone wondered whether Frank was really Frank. Because Ed McMahon knew Frank, he went to the phone to confirm Frank’s identity. In their private life, the two men shared a toast. Frank would raise his glass and said, “To the festival.” Ed would then say, “To the incredible festival of life.” Therefore, Ed said on the phone, “To the what?” Frank replied, “To the festival,” and Ed said to the telethoners, “Take his money.”

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