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The New Daily
The New Daily

‘Irreplaceable’: Talk show host Jerry Springer dies after sudden illness, 79

Jerry Springer, the one-time mayor and news anchor whose namesake TV show featured a circus of dysfunctional families willing to bare all, has died aged 79.

Known for chair-throwing and bleep-filled arguments, The Jerry Springer Show was a favourite US 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 the country’s social values.

“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 family spokesman and friend of Springer’s since 1970, in a statement.

“He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely but memories of his intellect, heart and humour will live on.”

Springer died peacefully at home in suburban Chicago after a brief illness, the statement said.

TMZ reports he had pancreatic cancer that was diagnosed a few months ago, and this week he took a turn for the worse.

On his Twitter profile, Springer jokingly declared himself as “Talk show host, ringmaster of civilisation’s end”.

The Jerry Springer show, pictured in 1998, defined an era. Photo: Getty

After more than 4000 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 seven million viewers in the late 1990s, Springer offered a defence 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.

Gerald Norman Springer was born February 13, 1944, in a London underground railway station being used as a bomb shelter.

His parents, Richard and Margot, were German Jews who fled to England during the Holocaust, in which other relatives were killed in Nazi gas chambers.

They arrived in the United States when their son was five and settled in the Queens borough of New York City.

He studied political science at Tulane University and got a law degree from Northwestern University.

He entered politics as an aide in Robert F Kennedy’s ill-fated 1968 presidential campaign.

Springer ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1970 before being elected to city council in 1971.

In 1974 — in what The Cincinnati Enquirer reported as “an abrupt move that shook Cincinnati’s political community” — Springer resigned.

He cited “very personal family considerations” but what he did not mention was a vice probe involving prostitution.

In a subsequent admission that could have been the basis for one of his future shows, Springer said he had paid prostitutes with personal cheques.

Then 30, he had married Micki Velton the previous year. The couple had a daughter, Katie, and divorced in 1994.

Springer quickly bounced back politically, winning a council seat in 1975 and serving as mayor in 1977.

He later became a local television politics reporter with popular evening commentaries.

Jerry Springer was a news anchor talking politics before his talk show years. Photo: Getty

Springer began his talk show in 1991 with more of a traditional format but after he left WLWT in 1993, it got a sleazy makeover.

It made Springer a celebrity who would go on to host a radio talk show and America’s Got Talent, star in a movie called Ringmaster and compete on Dancing With the Stars.

“With all the joking I do with the show, I’m fully aware and thank God every day that my life has taken this incredible turn because of this silly show,” Springer told the Cincinnati Enquirer in 2011.

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