Talk show legend Jerry Springer dead at 79

Published: 28/4/2023
Talk show host Jerry Springer has died.
Talk show host Jerry Springer has died.

Legendary US talk show host Jerry Springer has died aged 79.

Broadcaster NBC said he died peacefully on Thursday at his home in Chicago after a brief illness.

The 111733... . 168243... - 214327... . 163607... ">New York Post reported Springer had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer several months ago and deteriorated this week.

The former news anchor came to global fame due to the Jerry Springer show which enthralled millions as the public battled out their grievances in front of the TV cameras - sometimes coming quite literally to blows.

"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 Springer's friend Jene Galvin who spoke on behalf of the family.

"He's irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humour will live on."

Springer was born in London in 1944 in an Underground station which his family had used to shelter from German bombs during the Second World War. With his parents, he moved to New York when he was four.

A Democrat, Springer became mayor of Cincinnati in 1977 and pondered running for higher offices. He would later become the lead anchor of NBC Cincinnati's local news leading to it becoming the city's highest rated news show.

But it was the 1991 debut of the Jerry Springer show that would catapult him to stardom.

After a shaky start it found its audience and would run for three decades.

It would also see Springer referred to as the "grandfather of trash TV". Even he admitted the program had "no redeeming social value".

Jerry Springer on set.
Jerry Springer on set.

Popular - but controversial - talk show

The program became so popular that at its height, in 1998, it was out rating The Oprah Winfrey Show.

While other shows had previously highlighted the domestic situations and issues affecting the public, Springer took the genre to its extreme inviting on guests with out of the ordinary or bizarre stories to tell, often leaning towards sexual peccadillos.

Subjects like "My boyfriend turned out to be a girl" and "I slept with a stripper" became the norm, along with guests who were, for instance, dominatrixes or polyamorous.

A favourite tactic was to talk to a guest and then surprise them with their nemesis - the person they had just been criticising - being brought on to confront them.

This regularly led to verbal and physical altercations with security forced to pull people apart.

The audience would almost on cue erupt into chants of "Jerry! Jerry!" which became a catchphrase of the show.

The controversy and outbursts were why many viewers tuned in.

Guests soften had to be restrained by on-set security.
Guests soften had to be restrained by on-set security.

Dark tragedy after show

Compering the wild antics was Springer and his calm, almost scholarly, persona. At the end of each episode, he would try and bring some order back to the chaos with his "final thought" which asked his audience to "take care of yourselves and each other".

That wasn't always the case.

The show became embroiled in tragedy in 2000 when guest Ralf Panitz appeared on the show with his ex wife Nancy Campbell-Panitz.

On the day the episode aired, his ex-wife had succeeded in a court case against him. After watching the show which he featured on, Panitz beat Ms Campbell-Panitz to death.

He was jailed for life for second degree murder in 2002.

The show said the events were "unrelated" to the episode and they were an "easy and convenient target".

Standard Springer fare.
Standard Springer fare.

Nevertheless, Springer received persistent criticism that he and the program was exploiting sometimes vulnerable, often poorer, people for ratings.

However, writing on entertainment website the AV Club Todd VanDerWerff said the show also made America realise the huge differences in people's lives across the country.

"By simply allowing all of these people onto television - even if they were there to slot into certain preformed narratives - the series casually opened the door to a nation that was not as white bread as it desperately insisted it was."

It's success even led to the creation of an acclaimed British theatrical show called Jerry Springer The Opera which toured to Australia.

The fictional guests in the production sung their woes, the audience was the chorus and the final showdown was between Jesus and the Devil rather than warring partners.

David Wenham plays Jerry Springer during a scene from Jerry Springer The Opera at the Sydney Opera House in, 2009. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING
David Wenham plays Jerry Springer during a scene from Jerry Springer The Opera at the Sydney Opera House in, 2009. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING

Springer said he was under no allusions that the show that made him famous and rich was high brow viewing.

"It's silly, crazy and has no redeeming social value other than an hour of escapism," Springer said in 2010, reported CNN.

 

"There is never anything on our show that hasn't been on the front pages of newspapers in America. The only difference is that the people on my show aren't famous."

His eponymous show finally ended in 2018 after 27 series. He was also a judge on America's Got Talent for two seasons, performed on the US version of The Masked Singer and in 2018 he debuted a new program called Judge Jerry.

Springer is survived by daughter Katie, sister Evelyn and ex-wife Micki Velton.

Originally published as Talk show legend Jerry Springer dead at 79

Latest articles

19 Funeral songs from the 90s to honour your loved one

19 songs from the 1990s to compliment a heartfelt farewell. These funeral songs can bring back memories...

19 Funeral songs from the 90s to honour your loved one

How do I find a funeral notice in Victoria?

How to find a funeral notice in Victoria with My Tributes. A safe platform to honour and connect...

How do I find a funeral notice in Victoria?

Laurie Theresa Harbort

Readers of the Catholic Leader during the period 1955 to 1980 would fondly remember the Uncle John’s...

Laurie Theresa Harbort

Shane Warne’s dad Keith delivers emotional eulogy at state...

Shane Warne’s father Keith has delivered a moving eulogy before he was overcome with emotion when...

Shane Warne’s dad Keith delivers emotional eulogy at state memorial

Can obituaries be private

Wondering how to preserve the privacy of obituaries while ensuring your family's wishes are upheld...

Can obituaries be private
View more articles