US talk show host Jerry Springer dies aged 79
Controversial talk show host Jerry Springer has died aged 79.
He was best known for showcasing dysfunctional families on The Jerry Springer Show, which ran from 1991 until 2018 in the US.
Springer had stepped down from The Jerry Springer Podcast, after eight years, in December.
Family spokesman Jene Galvin said in a statement: “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.
“He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humour will live on.”
Springer died peacefully at his home in Chicago after a brief illness, the statement added.
Chat show host Ricki Lake, who described Springer as both her “rival” and a “friend”, was among those paying tribute.
While sharing a picture on Twitter of the two of them on American competition show Drop The Mic On TNT, the daytime talk show host of Ricki Lake wrote: “A lovely man. Here is the time he kicked my ass on @DropTheMicTNT. May he rest in peace.”
Before Springer’s broadcasting career, which included stints as a political reporter and commentator, he was the mayor of Cincinnati, in the US state of Ohio, and a political campaign adviser to US presidential hopeful Robert F Kennedy.
Thank you! It's been a wonderful eight years sharing stories, thoughts, laughter, and tears with you all. Our quirky off the beat podcast is now riding off into the sunset. We appreciate all of you for coming along the way! Much love to all of you! Happy New Year!#NewYear pic.twitter.com/hVum6swu23
— Jerry Springer (@jerryspringer) December 30, 2022
Springer was born in a London Underground station on February 13 1944, while it was being used as a bomb shelter.
His family – who had fled from Germany to England during the Holocaust – later settled in the Queens borough of New York City.
At Tulane University, Springer studied political science and went on to get a law degree from Northwestern University.
Before entering the world of entertainment, he worked at a law firm and then was elected to Cincinnati City Council in 1971 and 1975 before rising to serve as mayor.
Springer also had various unsuccessfully runs for various political office including Congress in 1970 and ran adverts to campaign to become governor of Ohio in the 1980s.
He later became a local television politics reporter and had an NBC affiliate WLWT-TV news show.
Springer began his talk show in 1991 with a more traditional format, before the series became known for chair-throwing and bleep-filled arguments.
On his Twitter profile, he called himself “talk show host, ringmaster of civilisation’s end”.
His talk show was so popular that it spawned a British version called Jerry Springer UK in 1999, along with a satirical musical based on his US programme.
Jerry Springer: The Opera, by British writers Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee, was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and Battersea Arts Centre before being taken to the National Theatre in 2003.
In 2004, the Olivier Awards gave the musical four gongs, best performance, best sound design, best actor and best new musical.
Springer made his own stage debut in a musical, starring as Billy Flynn in Chicago in 2009 in the West End.
Presenter Matthew Wright, who saw Springer appear on his topical chat show The Wright Stuff, wrote on Twitter: “Went to see Jerry Springer the opera with Jerry Springer who loved every second.
“Top fella, a great deputy on the Wright stuff hope he RIP XX.”
Former advisor to US president Barack Obama, David Axelrod, who had been a political writer for The Chicago Tribune, wrote: “Jerry Springer will be remembered as the ringmaster of an embarrassing, tabloid-style TV show.
“But I met him earlier, when he was a mayor and insurgent progressive candidate for governor of Ohio in a race I covered. He was funny, self-effacing & incisive.”
There are plans for a funeral and a memorial, Springer’s agent said.
Springer was married to Micki Velton. They had a daughter, Katie, and divorced in 1994.
The family asked that in lieu of flowers, people should make a donation or an act of kindness to someone in need, or a worthy advocacy organisation, in tribute to the way Springer signed off his talk shows with the phrase: “Take care of yourself, and each other.”