Jerry Springer, the legendary talk show host and former mayor of Cincinnati, has died. He was 79.
Springer’s family confirmed his death to several media outlets Thursday morning, saying in a provided statement that he died peacefully Thursday at his home in the Chicago suburbs.
“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 in a statement to NBC affiliate WLWT5. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”
‘The Jerry Springer Show’ ceases production after 27 years
While most famous for his popular, and at times controversial, talk show, The Jerry Springer Show, Springer wore many hats over the course of his life, including actor, producer, lawyer and politician.
He served as the 56th mayor of Cincinnati from 1977 to 1978.
His long-running talk show, and all the subsequent on-stage drama, ran from September 1991 to July 2018. He also hosted the Jerry Springer Podcast for seven years, from 2015 to 2022, and hosted a show called Judge Jerry from 2019 to 2022.
Springer’s namesake TV show featured a three-ring circus of dysfunctional families willing to bare all on weekday afternoons including brawls, obscenities and blurred images of nudity.
At its peak, The Jerry Springer Show was a ratings powerhouse and a U.S. cultural pariah, synonymous with lurid drama. Known for chair-throwing and bleep-filled arguments, the daytime talk show was a favorite American guilty pleasure over its 27-year run, at one point topping Oprah Winfrey’s show.
Springer called it “escapist entertainment,” while others saw the show as contributing to a dumbing-down decline in American social values.
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On his Twitter profile, Springer jokingly declared himself as “Talk show host, ringmaster of civilization’s end.” He also often had told people, tongue in cheek, that his wish for them was “may you never be on my show.”
After more than 4,000 episodes, the show ended in 2018, never straying from its core salaciousness: Some of its last episodes had such titles as Stripper Sex Turned Me Straight, Stop Pimpin’ My Twin Sister, and Hooking Up With My Therapist.
In a Too Hot For TV video released as his daily show neared 7 million viewers in the late 1990s, Springer offered a defense against disgust.
“Look, television does not and must not create values, it’s merely a picture of all that’s out there — the good, the bad, the ugly,” Springer said, adding: “Believe this: The politicians and companies that seek to control what each of us may watch are a far greater danger to America and our treasured freedom than any of our guests ever were or could be.”
He also contended that the people on his show volunteered to be subjected to whatever ridicule or humiliation awaited them.
— With files from The Associated Press
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