Jerry Springer, TV show host dies at 79

He was one of the most influential and controversial figures in TV history.

Jerry Springer, the TV presenter best known for his raucous talk shows, has died aged 79.

The Jerry Springer Show, which ran for nearly three decades from 1991, brought fights, flying chairs, and the fringes of US society to a global audience.

Springer died peacefully on Thursday at his home in Chicago, his publicists confirmed to BBC News.

Jene Galvin, a friend of Springer’s and spokesman for the family, described him as “irreplaceable”.

“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 said.

“He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humour will live on.”

Springer’s chat show became a symbol of low-brow television over the course of almost 5,000 episodes with its chaotic confrontation, swearing and infidelity revelations.

Fellow chat show host Ricki Lake led the tributes on social media, writing: “Just waking to the very sad news of the passing of my longtime talk show rival and friend Jerry Springer. A lovely man. May he rest in peace.”

Broadcaster Piers Morgan described Springer as a “TV icon and such an intelligent, warm, funny man”.

“Loved working with him on AGT [America’s Got Talent], loved hanging out with him (we lived in same hotel for two years), loved arguing with him (he loved his politics), loved everything about him,” he added.

“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,” said Jene Galvin, a family spokesperson and friend of Springer’s since 1970, in a statement. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”

Springer died peacefully at home in suburban Chicago after a brief illness, the statement said

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

After more than 4,000 episodes, the show ended in 2018, never straying from its core salaciousness: Some of its last episodes had such titles as “Stripper Sex Turned Me Straight,” “Stop Pimpin’ My Twin Sister,” and “Hooking Up With My Therapist.”

In a “Too Hot For TV” video released as his daily show neared 7 million viewers in the late 1990s, Springer offered a defense against disgust.

“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,” Springer said, adding: “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.”

He also contended that the people on his show volunteered to be subjected to whatever ridicule or humiliation awaited them.

Gerald Norman Springer was born Feb. 13, 1944, in a London underground railway station being used as a bomb shelter. His parents, Richard and Margot, were German Jews who fled to England during the Holocaust, in which other relatives were killed in Nazi gas chambers. They arrived in the United States when their son was 5 and settled in the Queens borough of New York City, where Springer got his first Yankees baseball gear on his way to becoming a lifelong fan.

He studied political science at Tulane University and got a law degree from Northwestern University. He was active in politics much of his adult life, mulling a run for governor of Ohio as recently as 2017.

He entered the arena as an aide in Robert F. Kennedy’s ill-fated 1968 presidential campaign. Springer, working for a Cincinnati law firm, ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1970 before being elected to city council in 1971.

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