The telethon, originating from CBS Television City in Hollywood, was broadcast for 21½ hours on about 200 TV stations around the U.S. during the Labor Day weekend. As usual, the variety show featured celebrity co-hosts, including Ed McMahon, Norm Crosby and Casey Kasem.
Lewis said he was gratified to have exceeded his goal of raising $1 more than last year's $54.6 million total.
"The extraordinary compassion of the great American public never ceases to amaze me, even after all these years," Lewis said in a statement issued shortly after the conclusion of the marathon event.
"Their message is unmistakable. They're telling us to keep the research going at full speed and beat these devastating diseases."
Lewis has vowed to conduct the telethon each Labor Day until a cure is found for neuromuscular diseases.
© MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed