Jerry Springer, the TV presenter best known for his raucous talk shows, has died aged 79.
Jerry Springer, best known as the host of a chaotic and long-running syndicated talk show has died of pancreatic cancer, spokeswoman Linda Shafran confirmed. He was 79.
A statement said Springer, who is from Cincinnati, where he began his talk show and once served as mayor, died Thursday at his home in suburban Chicago.
"Jerry’s ability to connect with people was at the heart of his success in everything he tried, whether that was politics, broadcasting or just joking with people on the street who wanted a photo or a word," Jene Galvin, a lifelong friend and spokesman for the family said. "He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on."
In addition to hosting the tabloid show for 27 seasons, from 1991-2018, Springer was the 56th mayor of Cincinnati from 1977-78.
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The target of naysayers calling it the "worst show in the history of television" (as dubbed by TV Guide in 2002) and known for stunts and absurdities, “Springer” was nonetheless a force in popular culture during its long run. Known for chair-throwing, frequent use of expletives, seedy squabbles and lowest-common-denominator drama, it was a ratings juggernaut. In his Twitter bio, Springer described himself as "Talk show host, ringmaster of civilization’s end."
The show was taped for most of its run in Chicago, but moved to Stamford, Connecticut, in 2009.
Speaking to USA TODAY on the occasion of the show’s 25th anniversary in 2015, Springer said he couldn’t tone down the show even if he wanted to.
"I'm contractually obligated," he said. "What the affiliates are buying is a show about craziness."
More:USA TODAY interview with Jerry Springer in 2015
The show made Springer an international celebrity. He went on to host a liberal radio talk show and (for two seasons) NBC's "America’s Got Talent," starred in a movie called “Ringmaster” and competed on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."
"With all the joking I do with the show, I’m fully aware and thank God every day that my life has taken this incredible turn because of this silly show," Springer told the Cincinnati Enquirer in 2011.
Before his career in television, Springer had a political career in Ohio. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 1970, served in Cincinnati's City Council in 1971 and became the city’s mayor in 1977 for one term. His political fortunes even survived revelations that he used personal checks to pay for prostitutes in the early 1970s.
After the conclusion of his talk show, Springer hosted a syndicated "Judge Jerry" courtroom reality series in 2019, but it never had the reach or cultural impact of his original series, and was canceled after three seasons in 2022. Springer’s last TV appearance may have been on Fox’s singing competition "The Masked Singer," where he was revealed in October 2022 as "The Beetle."
In spite of his show’s reputation as "trash TV," which sparked competitors including Maury Povich and Steve Wilkos, Springer often expressed empathy and compassion for the people who filled his set with the kind of drama that lead to ratings gold.
"Know this," he said during a 2015 episode. "There's never been a moment in the 25 years of doing this show that I ever thought I was better than the people who appear on our stage. I'm not better. Only luckier."
Wilkos, in a statement Thursday, praised Springer: "Other than my father, Jerry was the most influential man in my life. Everything I have today I owe to Jerry. He was the smartest, most generous, kindest person I’ve ever known. My wife and I are devastated. We will miss him terribly."
He was born Gerald Norman Springer on Feb. 13, 1944, in a London underground railway station being used as a bomb shelter. His parents, Richard and Margot, were German Jews who fled to England during the Holocaust. His family emigrated to the United States when he was 5 and lived in Queens.
Springer married Micki Velton in 1973. The couple had a daughter, Katie, and divorced in 1994.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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