US Chat show legend Jerry Springer dies aged 79

Mick the Ram


Jerry Springer, the TV host best known for his talk shows that brought fights and furniture throwing to global audiences, has died aged 79. Family spokesperson and long time friend Jene Galvin, confirmed that the popular politican-turned-presenter had passed away peacefully at his home in Chicago, from pancreatic cancer.

The Jerry Springer Show ran for nearly three decades after first airing in 1991 and in its almost 5,000 episodes until its end in 2018, became synonymous with chaotic confrontation, swearing, infidelity revelations and fist fights. The show topped the daytime television ratings in the US, beating even Oprah during the latter half of the nineties.

There has been an award-winning musical made based on his show; he tried his hand at acting; was a host on America’s Got Talent; and in recent years he fronted the courtroom show Judge Jerry.


On releasing the sad news, Mr Galvin described him as “irreplaceable” but said his “intellect, heart and humour will live on.” Springer’s family have asked that in lieu of flowers, people should make a donation or an act of kindness to someone in need, or a worthy advocacy organisation, in tribute to the way Jerry would sign off from his talk shows: “Take care of yourself, and each other.”


Fellow presenters and hosts have been quick to pass on their tributes. Fellow chat show host Ricki Lake wrote on social media: “Just waking to the very sad news of the passing of my long time talk show rival and friend Jerry Springer; a lovely man. May he rest in peace.”

Trisha Goddard who rose to fame with her own chat show shared a close friendship. “We knew him as a gentleman, a really, really sweet person who showed me a lot of kindness when I came from the UK,” she said on hearing the news.

Controversial broadcaster Piers Morgan spoke of his time on America’s Got Talent, explaining that they lived in the same hotel for two years. He called him a “TV icon and such an intelligent, warm, funny man.”

Next arrival on platform one!

Jerry Springer’s parents were German-Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany and moved to East Finchley in North London in 1939. He was actually born on a busy platform at Highgate Underground station in 1944, when it was being used as a shelter from bombing raids.

The family moved to the States in 1949 and his professional life began in politics, with him acting as an aide to Robert Kennedy’s ill-fated 1968 presidential campaign before later being elected mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1977. He switched to a career in TV journalism, first becoming a reporter at a local TV station, before working his way up to being an anchor.

Controversy the way forward

His show launched in 1991, but initially it just focused on social issues, but in an effort to boost ratings, he introduced some more shocking content. He would defend the show by remarking: “If all shows were like mine, that would be wrong, but you can’t just have television that is like Friends, with all these wealthy, good looking people.”

His audience would regularly chant “Jerry! Jerry!” when tensions became heightened, adding to the show’s popularity. He would often refer to his programme as “escapist entertainment”. In 2003, a musical based on the disorderly series was launched titled – Jerry Springer: The Opera, which ran for 609 performances in London from April 2003 to February 2005 and it won four Olivier awards, including best new musical.

Shocking discovery

In June 2009, Springer made his stage debut playing Billy Flynn in Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre, London and more recently and on a much more serious note, he appeared on the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? which traces celebrities roots. On it he discovered his maternal grandmother and paternal grandmother were killed by the Nazis at concentration camps during the Holocaust.


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