Longtime TV personality Jerry Springer, who helped pioneer the genre of confrontational daytime television, died Thursday after a bout with cancer, his representatives said.
He was 79.
The former mayor of Cincinnati, Springer died in Chicago, publicist Linda Shafran told NBC News. He died from pancreatic cancer, family spokesperson Jean Galvin added.
“The Jerry Springer Show” ran from 1991 to 2018 and was known for its profanity-prone guests who often had to be restrained by on-set security guards as audience members wildly cheered, “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!”
The show’s 1990s popularity made it a ratings rival of daytime polar opposite, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and Springer had no regrets for the high-energy, low-brow material he aired on afternoon TV.
“I don’t watch the show, but it’s not aimed at 66-year-old men,” Springer said in a 2010 interview. “If I were in college, I would watch. I enjoy doing it. It’s a lot of fun.”
“Springer” was such a success, that the words “Jerry Springer” became a synonym for anything outrageous or ridiculous TV.
After the infamous Will Smith slap of Chris Rock at last year’s Oscars, Alec Baldwin bemoaned how the show had “turned into the Jerry Springer show.”
Gerald Norman Springer was born on Feb. 13, 1944, in a London subway station that was being used as a bomb shelter against German air raids.
His Jewish parents — Margo and Richard Springer — had fled Nazi Germany before the start of World War II.
The family moved to the United States and Springer grew up in New York City, where he graduated from Forrest Hills High School in Queens.
Springer went on to get his bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and law degree from Northwestern. He joined the ill-fated campaign of Robert Kennedy in 1968 and participated in the massive anti-war protests at that year’s Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
He settled in Cincinnati and soon took an active role in Queen City politics, eventually becoming mayor in a City Hall career that could have easily been the topic of a “Springer Show.”
He won election to the city council in 1971 before resigning in 1974 after admitting to using the services of prostitutes, some who he paid with checks.
The scandal didn’t sink Springer and the future talk-show king’s openness about the affair is largely cited for his political comeback.
He won election back to the council in 1975 and served as mayor for one year beginning in 1977. Springer then turned his attention to television, as a political reporter and anchor on WLWT, the NBC affiliate in Cincinnati.
Rest in peace Jerry. You will be missed.