Jerry Springer Dies: Controversial Talk Show Host Was 79

Jerry Springer hosting The Jerry Springer Show in 2014. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Jerry Springer, a politician-turned-media personality who helped change the daytime TV landscape, has died. He was 79.

Springer passed away on Thursday in Chicago, according to his family spokesperson Jene Galvin.

“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,” Galvin told the Associated Press. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”

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Springer, a former mayor of Cincinnati, jumped into daytime TV with his self-titled talk show in 1991.

Known for its salacious content, including infidelity reveals and paternity tests, The Jerry Springer Show was often referred to as “trash TV.”

The show featured episodes with titles like “I Cheated At The Wedding” and “My Stepmom Is Trying To Steal My Man!”

The studio audience encouraged guests to argue and fight by chanting “Jer-ry, Jer-ry, Jer-ry!”

Springer even referred to himself on his Twitter bio as “Talk show host, ringmaster of civilization’s end.”

The ratings for Jerry were through the roof, and at one point they surpassed Oprah Winfrey’s show.

Jerry averaged 10 million viewers in the late 1990s, with its popularity reaching a peak in 1998. But as the ratings slipped amid growing competition, it was canceled after 28 seasons in 2018.

The Jerry Springer Show (Credit: NBC Universal)
The Jerry Springer show ran for 28 seasons.

Springer returned to TV with syndicated court show Judge Jerry in 2019. The series ended after three seasons in 2022.

He also filled in for an ailing Wendy Williams on her daytime show in 2021.

Gerald Norman Springer was born in a London underground train station that served as a bomb shelter on Feb. 13, 1944. His parents were German Jews who fled to England during the Holocaust. The family moved to New York City when Jerry was 5.

After graduating from high school, Springer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University in 1965, and received a law degree from Northwestern University in 1968.

He landed a job with a Cincinnati law firm, before jumping into politics.

After running unsuccessfully for Congress in 1970, he was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971. Springer resigned from the city council in 1974, after admitting to visiting prostitutes, according to NBC News.

Despite rivals saying his political career was over, he was chosen to serve one year as mayor by the city council in 1977.

He married Micki Velton in 1973. The couple had a daughter, Katie, and divorced in 1994.

After leaving politics, Springer went into TV news. He worked as a political reporter and anchor on WLWT, the NBC affiliate in Cincinnati.

He later realized his calling was on daytime TV.