Jerry Springer, the well-known host of a controversial and long-running talk show, has died at the age of 79 from pancreatic cancer, according to spokeswoman Linda Shafran. Born in London, Springer was from Cincinnati, where he began his talk show and served as mayor. He passed away on Thursday at his home in suburban Chicago.
Jene Galvin, a lifelong friend and spokesman for the family, paid tribute to Springer’s ability to connect with people, calling it the heart of his success in politics, broadcasting, and even joking with fans on the street. Galvin described Springer as irreplaceable, and said his loss was deeply felt, but that his intellect, heart, and humor would be remembered forever.
Springer hosted his tabloid-style show for 27 seasons from 1991 to 2018 and also served as the mayor of Cincinnati from 1977 to 1978. Despite being criticized as the “worst show in the history of television,” Springer’s talk show was a ratings success due to its sensational stunts and lowbrow drama.
In addition to his television career, Springer hosted a liberal radio talk show, appeared on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” and competed on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” He also hosted a courtroom reality series called “Judge Jerry” in 2019, which was canceled after three seasons in 2022.
Before his television career, Springer had a political career in Ohio, running an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 1970 and serving on Cincinnati’s City Council in 1971. He became the city’s mayor in 1977, surviving a scandal in which he used personal checks to pay for prostitutes in the early 1970s.
Despite the controversial nature of his talk show, Springer expressed empathy and compassion for the people who appeared on his set, saying he never thought he was better than them. Steve Wilkos, who worked on Springer’s show and later had his own talk show, paid tribute to Springer, calling him the most influential man in his life.
Springer was born Gerald Norman Springer in a London bomb shelter, and his family fled to the United States when he was five years old. He was married to Micki Velton from 1973 to 1994 and had one daughter, Katie.