The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Board of Governors chose Lewis, national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, for the prestigious award in recognition of his work for the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.
The award will be presented to the 79-year-old entertainer and humanitarian during the 2005 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 10. The 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be televised Sept. 18 on CBS.
"Television has few traditions with as much impact on the lives of viewers as the annual Jerry Lewis Telethon. This year, he hopes to reach the $2 billion mark for research programs of the Muscular Dystrophy Association," Gary Goldberger, chairman of the Governors Award nominating committee, said in a statement Tuesday.
"Jerry's dedication and humanitarian efforts combined with the magnitude and longevity of the public service work he has performed exemplifies everything the Governors Award represents," Goldberger said.
The Governors Award salutes an individual, company or organization. Past recipients include Walter Cronkite, Johnny Carson, Masterpiece Theatre, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope and Alistair Cooke.
Lewis has hosted the Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon for nearly 40 years. The telethon is scheduled for this year on Sept. 4-5 in Beverly Hills.
Each year Lewis vows to make "one dollar more" than the last telethon, and he has achieved that goal every year, Emmy officials said.
In 1966, the telethon was shown on one TV station and raised about $1 million in pledges. In September, the show will be aired on 200 stations, will be shown on the Internet, and could generate over $60 million for the first time. Last year, $59.4 million was pledged.