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Talk Show Host, TV Icon and Former Politician Jerry Springer, Dies at 79

Jerry Springer
Jerry Springer

Jerry Springer, the onetime mayor and news anchor whose namesake TV show featured dysfunctional families willing to bare all on weekday afternoons to resolve their quarrels which at times included brawls, obscenities and blurred images of nudity, died Thursday at the age of 79.

Springer died peacefully at home in suburban Chicago after a brief illness, his family confirmed to multiple outlets.

Springer was best known as the host of “The Jerry Springer Show”, a syndicated talk show that ran for 27 seasons from 1991 to 2018. The show was a ratings powerhouse and a U.S. cultural outlet, synonymous with lurid drama. Known for chair-throwing and bleep-filled arguments, the show featured guests who confessed their secrets, confronted their enemies or revealed their fetishes on national television.

Springer called it “escapist entertainment,” while others saw the show as contributing to a dumbing-down of American social values. He also contended that the people on his show volunteered to be subjected to whatever ridicule or humiliation awaited them.

On his Twitter profile, Springer jokingly declared himself as “Talk show host, ringmaster of civilization’s end.” He also often told people, that his wish for them was “may you never be on my show.”

Springer was born on Feb. 13, 1944, in a London underground railway station being used as a bomb shelter. His parents were German Jews who fled to England during the Holocaust. He moved to the United States with his family when he was 5 years old.

He graduated from Tulane University and Northwestern University School of Law. He worked as a campaign aide for Robert F. Kennedy and practiced law in Cincinnati before entering politics himself.

He was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971 and served as the mayor of Cincinnati from 1977 to 1978. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor of Ohio in 1982 and for the U.S. Senate in 2000.

He worked as a news anchor and commentator for WLWT-TV in Cincinnati from 1982 to 1993, winning 10 local Emmy Awards. He also hosted a radio talk show and a game show called “Baggage”.

He appeared in several movies and TV shows, such as “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”, “The Simpsons”, “Dancing with the Stars” and “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!”.

He is survived by his wife Micki, his daughter Katie and his grandchildren.