Telethon: who were the first hosts?


Since 1987, every first weekend of December has been marked by the Telethon, a mobilization event against rare diseases. On this occasion, France Télévisions is mobilizing to offer 30 hours of live on its channels to viewers. Hosts, artists, researchers and technical teams come together to put on a show, talk about advances in research on rare diseases and call for donations. Although there are now many presenters covering the event across France, the 1987 television marathon relied mainly on four big names in television.

The very first Telethon took place during the weekend of December 4 to 6, 1987. Jerry Lewis, creator of the American Telethon, was the first sponsor of the event. Around the American comedian, four flagship hosts from Antenne 2 took turns on the air to bring the event to life for 30 hours non-stop, live from the studios of Radio France. They were Michel Drucker, Claude Sérillon, Gérard Holtz and Jacques Chancel. Regarding the latter, he was not on the set of Radio France with the three other presenters. Indeed, Jacques Chancel crisscrossed France with a special train made available to him for the SNC. In particular, he highlighted 12 pledge centers.

This first Telethon was a resounding success since the collection exceeded 175 million francs (29.7 million euros). The counter, which had only eight digits, had to be supplemented by a ninth panel written by hand. Jacques Chancel only hosted in 1987 while the other animators have hosted several over his last 35 years. Viewers remember in particular the giggles of Claude Sérillon and actor Michel Boujenah during the 1989 Telethon.