Jerry Spring dies at 79
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
Jerry Springer, a figure in politics and broadcasting famous for his eponymous conflict talk show has died.
Springer, 79, died after a brief illness at his home near Chicago, according to a statement issued by his representatives.
Springer was best known for hosting “Jerry Springer” from 1991 to 2018, a daytime talk show that started out focused on politics but eventually evolved into sensational topics and often violent guest outbursts.
The latter format attracted millions of viewers and the show challenged “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in the ratings for a period.
The show tended to feature guests with backstories that frequently involved sex, drugs, adultery and controversial topics. A common tact was for the guest to confess their story on air to Springer while a family member, friend, partner, spouse or other individual connected to the situation was kept backstage and brought out at a key moment in the guest’s exchange with Springer.
In many cases, the other person had heard the entire conversation and their presence at the show was portrayed as a surprise. This frequently caused both verbal and physical fights to break out.
Studio audience members would often chant “Jerry! Jerry!” to egg on the outbursts. Later in the run, Steve Wilkos, a former marine and law enforcement officer, would rise to fame as the head of security for the show, often having to intervene during these outbursts.
Wilkos would go on to both fill in for Springer and host his own self-titled talker, which continues to this day.
The format Springer’s show would become legendary in the broadcasting world and made him a household name, albeit an often controversial one.
Springer held a law degree from Northwestern University and ran unsuccessfully for Congress. He later served on the city council of Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as being selected to serve as mayor of the city for one year. He also tried running for governor of Ohio but was not successful.
In 1997, Springer was also hired by WMAQ in Chicago to provide on-air commentaries during the run of his talk show.
Anchors Ron Magers and Carol Marin both resigned from the station in protest and he only ended up appearing twice on the station’s newscasts before resigning.
After “Jerry Springer” was canceled in 2018, Springer hosted “Judge Jerry” from 2019 to 2022.
This show, which used the arbitration style of most TV court shows, and used a toned-down format compared to his talker.
Springer himself had never been a judge in the legal sense of the word, though this is not required for TV court shows. He was, however, able to draw on his legal background at times.
Springer also hosted competition show “America’s Got Talent” for NBC from 2007 to 2008.
Springer is survived by one child, whom he had with ex-wife Micki Velton.