He received the tribute at the Creative Arts Primetime Emmy Awards (search), which recognize technical and other achievements for the 2004-05 television season. The ceremony preceded next week's main Emmy awards.
Lewis, 79, held his 40th Labor Day telethon earlier this month to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In accepting his award, he said he wanted to correct the idea that his years of service have been selfless.
"I am probably the most selfish man you will ever meet in your life. No one gets the satisfaction or the joy that I get out of seeing kids realize there is hope," Lewis told the audience at the Shrine Auditorium.
Amanda Plummer was honored as outstanding guest actress in a drama for her appearance on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," while Ray Liotta received the guest actor award for "ER."
Awards for guest actress and actor in a comedy series went to Kathryn Joosten for "Desperate Housewives" and Bobby Cannavale for "Will & Grace."
"Desperate Housewives" won the award for the best casting for a comedy series, while the cast of "Lost" won for a drama series. HBO's "Lackawanna Blues" took the award for best casting for a miniseries, movie or special.
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" was named the best reality show, while Comedy Central's "South Park" took the award for best animated program.
Among the networks, HBO received a leading 20 awards, followed by ABC with 10 and PBS with nine. The HBO movie "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" was the most-honored program overall, with six awards, while HBO's "Deadwood," was the most-honored series with five trophies.
The 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, recognizing achievement in 27 categories including best comedy and drama series, will be televised Sept. 18 on CBS. Ellen DeGeneres is the host of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences ceremony.