Jerry Springer, the host of the show bearing his own name, has died at the age of 79, according to WLWT, where he first worked as a news anchor. Based out of Cincinnati, where he was also mayor, Springer presided over a lengthy reign in charge of The Jerry Springer Show, which was a ratings smash and made him a very rich man.
The Jerry Springer Show kicked off its multi-decade appearance on the TV guide in 1991 and by 1998, the appeal of the show was so vast that it was even capable of beating The Oprah Winfrey Show, drawing north of 12 million viewers on regular occasions. Springer originally signed on to the show to front what he thought would be a serious news outlet for topical issues of the time, but the pressure amongst advertisers to garner higher viewing figures would lead to a slew of changes and divert the show towards the format of “trash TV” – by appealing to the lowest common denominator.
The show itself was highly compelling viewing, if often for the wrong reasons – guests regularly appeared ready to fight on-camera over a variety of reasons, particularly sex or extramarital affairs, with Springer often reacting in faux outrage despite his own fairly prominent liberal leanings. The show was also very progressive towards gays and lesbians, while it dared to not judge trans people any differently to others.
Fights broke out on every episode, with debate raging on about just how staged they were – after all, if something happens more often than not, surely there’s a formula for it? But the formula, whether by design or luck, drew in the viewers who soon were used to their daily sight of chair throwing, cat-fighting and brawling in front of a baying mob of working class fans who would chant “Jerry! Jerry!” as the security guards ‘attempted’ – in the loosest sense of the world – to break it up. He would end each show with his “Final Thought”, where he would pontificate upon the issues spotlighted in each episode, and offer advice on how to avoid such scenarios. The advice was rarely taken by the guests, but his sincerity did shine through. The show concluded it’s run on July 26, 2018, after 4,969 episodes.
What Else Did Jerry Springer Do?
Outside of the talk show, Springer appeared as himself in a number of movies and TV shows, and played the president of the United States in the 2004 Dolph Lundgren film The Defender. He played a version of himself, a caricature of sorts, in the 1998 film Ringmaster which provided a behind-the-scenes look at potential guests who apply to a show similar to that which he presented in real life.
Springer was born in London, in 1944, to Jewish refugee parents from Germany. Both of his grandmothers died in Nazi concentration camps. The family moved to America in 1949. He earned a B.A. in political science from Tulane University, and a J.D. degree from Northwestern University in 1968. He would later became a political campaign adviser to Robert F. Kennedy, before joining the the Cincinnati law firm of Frost & Jacobs after Kennedy‘s assassination.
He is survived by his wife, Micki Velton, to whom he had been married since 1973, and a daughter, Katie.