It’s The End Of An Era: Jerry Springer Has Died
It’s a sad day for those who faked sick from school or work just to get a massive dose of Vitamin T (for trash) and Vitamin F (for fuckery) by taking in the industrial-strength messiness of Jerry Springer. Former Mayor of Cincinnati turned Master of Daytime Foolery, Jerry Springer, has died and is now hearing the chant “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” in the afterworld Jerry Springer was 79.
TMZ reports that Jerry was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few months ago and his health got much worse recently. A rep for Jerry’s family says in a statement to WLWT in Cincinnati, where Jerry once worked, that he died peacefully at his home in suburban Chicago this morning.
“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. He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”
Jerry Springer was born Gerald Norman Springer on February 13, 1944, in the Highgate tube station on the London Underground. The station was used as a bomb shelter during World War II. Jerry’s parents, Margot and Richard Springer, were Holocaust survivors and German-Jewish refugees who fled what was then Prussia for Britain. Several of Jerry’s relatives, including his maternal grandmother, were killed in concentration camps. When Jerry was four years old, his family immigrated to the US and settled in Queens, NY.
Jerry got interested in politics when he was just 12 years old. After graduating high school, he majored in political science at Tulane University and later earned a Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern University. Jerry worked as a political adviser on Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 Presidential campaign before he tried running for office himself. Jerry ran for Congress as a Democrat in 1970 but lost. A year later, Jerry was elected to Cincinnati City Council but resigned in 1974 for a reason that would have made him a guest on his own talk show. Jerry was involved in a prostitution scandal where he admitted to hiring a sex worker. Jerry came clean during a press conference, and a politician being honest was so refreshing for the people that he was re-elected to City Council in 1975. And two years later, Jerry’s political career continued to rise when the City Council made him Mayor of Cincinnati for a year from 1977 to 1978.
In 1982, Jerry’s prostitution ESCANDALO was used against him by his Republican opponent when he ran for Governor of Ohio. Jerry’s rival told voters that he was arrested on a morals charge after being caught in a motel with “three women” and that the check he paid them with bounced. Jerry shot down those fighting words by saying that he was never arrested, there were not three women in the room, and his check did not bounce, thankyouverymuch! I know, the real crime here is that Jerry Springer paid a sex worker with a check. But only THEE Jerry Springer would have the words “denied bouncing a check to a prostitute” in his obits.
During his time in the world of politics, Jerry also practiced law in Cincinnati, making partner at the law firm Grinker, Sudman & Springer.
While at Tulane University, Jerry got interested in broadcast journalism too, and worked at the radio station there. In the 80s, Jerry brought together his love of politics and journalism when he became a political reporter at WLWT. Jerry was popular with viewers, so in 1991, WLWT decided to give him his own talk show, and they basically copied The Phil Donahue Show. Jerry Springer debuted in 1991, and at first, Jerry covered politics and serious issues. But when a new producer, former tabloid reporter Richard Dominick, was hired for the show, it was completely revamped to bring in higher ratings. Gone was talk of politics, and in was a whole lot of messy trashiness.
Long before reality show tricks were throwing chairs at each other during scripted fights, the guests on Jerry Springer were throwing chairs at each other during scripted fights. Jerry Springer aired from 1991 to 2018. Over the course of nearly 5,000 episodes, he was the Ringleader of the Daytime Circus of Potent Fuckery. Jerry Springer became the main stage for tussles and brawls between spouses, lovahs, catfishers, exes, family members, hate groups, and on and on. Most of the Jerry Springer show compilations on YouTube won’t embed due to age restrictions, but here’s one:
Looking back now, Jerry Springer was a complete fever dream. I mean, Jerry would deliver the trashiest shit ever and then end his show with words of wisdom and kindness. But the formula worked, and at its peak in 1997 and 1998, it was beating The Oprah Winfrey Show in the ratings. And because Jerry Springer became such a chaotic phenomenon, other talk show hosts copied him. Jerry Springer ran (while dodging chairs thrown by his guests) so that Jenny Jones, Ricki Lake, Maury Povich, and Montell Williams could run. And the show also gave us the beautiful union between Jerry and Coco:
Jerry himself admitted that he never watched his own show and called it “silly.” via People:
“No one’s watching because of me,” Springer continued on Today. “They’re watching because the stories are crazy and the people are outrageous.”
The former Cincinnati mayor apologized for the effect he thought his show had. “I’ve ruined the culture,” he said.
“When we started, we were a serious show,” Springer said. “But then all of a sudden, it started going crazy. And when Universal bought us, they said, ‘From now on, only crazy.’ But there’s no censorship. We’ve had on our show neo-Nazis, and my family was exterminated by the Nazis. If I can do a show where I’m okay that they’re on, then what am I going to say no to?
Jerry Springer was spun off into Too Hot For TV (a VHS series of uncensored moments from the show), the UK’s The Springer Show, and The Steve Wilkos Show, hosted by Steve Wilkos, his longtime head of security and a regular on the show. The Steve Wilkos Show is currently in its 16th season (!!!!!). Jerry’s show was also the messy inspiration for Jerry Springer: The Opera, which premiered in London in 2003.
Jerry acted in episodes of Married… with Children, Roseanne, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The X-Files, MadTV, and George Lopez. He hosted America’s Got Talent for a couple of seasons and shook his shit on Dancing with the Stars. He also starred in Ringermaster, a movie loosely based on him, and played himself in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. And in 2012, he played Billy Flynn in Chicago The Musical in London’s West End.
More recently, Jerry starred in his own court show, Judge Jerry, before it was canceled last year, and he was a contestant on The Masked Singer.
Jerry Springer was married to Micki Velton from 1973 to 1994. Their daughter, Katie Springer, was born in 1976.
Rest in peace, Jerry Springer.
Pic: Ralf-Finn Hestoft/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images