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Jerry Springer, former Cincinnati mayor turned talk show ringmaster dies at 79


Jerry Springer, a broadcaster, author, politician, journalist, actor, lawyer, and daytime talk show host best known for The Jerry Springer Show, died peacefully at the age of 79 in his suburban Chicago home after a brief illness. 

Through his lifetime, Springer enjoyed a number of  high-profile jobs including mayor of Cincinnati. His syndicated TV program lasted 27 years and ended in 2018 after more than 4,000 episodes. The show featured provocatively sensational topics and confrontations among the guests which routinely sparked arguments, push, shoving, name calling, and more. 

It was entertaining at its best and at its worst, it was synonymous with fistfights that permeated each episode. Known for chair-throwing and bleep-filled arguments, The Jerry Springer Show was a ratings powerhouse which topped Oprah Winfrey’s show at one point with his daily show nearing 7 million viewers in the late 1990s.

Dressed nicely in a suit and tie with rim glasses, no topic was too outrageous for Jerry, his studio audience or those at home who loved the antics propelled the show and Jerry to must see TV. Many complained about his show and his guests profusely. Springer once offered a defense saying, “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. 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.”

In addition to complaints, the show saw its share of problems which had serious consequences. It was sued in 2002 by the son of a former guest who was killed by her ex-husband following the episode in which she appeared. It was also sued in 2019 by the family of a man who killed himself after appearing on an episode after learning that his fiancée was cheating on him.Before the Jerry Springer Show, Jerry was a  TV personality in the 1980s with Cincinnati NBC affiliate WLWT. The station hired him as a political reporter and commentator. He rose to become the primary news anchor and managing editor. Jerry Springer also saw success in other areas including briefly replacing Regis Philbin as host of the variety show America’s Got Talent, an appearance on Dancing with the Stars, and hosting a courtroom show called Judge Jerry.

Jerry was born Gerald Norman Springer on Feb. 13, 1944. He was delivered in a London underground railway station which was being used as a bomb shelter. His German Jew parents, Richard and Margot, fled to England during the Holocaust, while other relatives were killed in Nazi gas chambers. His family immigrated to the United States when he was 5 and settled in the Queens borough of New York City. 

Springer studied political science at Tulane University and got a law degree from Northwestern University. Active in politics much of his adult life, he considered running for governor of Ohio as recently as 2017. Springer served as an aide to Robert F. Kennedy during his 1968 presidential campaign; he worked for a Cincinnati law firm; and he ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1970 before being elected to city council in 1971.  

Springer’s family issued a statement asking fans to “make a donation or commit an act of kindness to someone in need” in his memory, noting “as he always said, ‘Take care of yourself, and each other.’ “

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