Jerry Springer, legendary talk show host, dies at 79

Longtime talk show host and former Cincinnati Mayor Jerry Springer has died, family members said Thursday in a statement. He was 79.

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In a statement obtained by WLWT and the Cincinnati Enquirer, family members said Springer died peacefully at his home in suburban Chicago after a brief illness.

“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,” Jene Galvin, a lifelong friend and spokesman for the family, said in a statement. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”

Springer hosted his eponymous tabloid talk show from 1991 until 2018. The salacious show focused on controversial or taboo topics, with discussions often devolving into physical, profanity-filled fights. In 2002, TV Guide named it the worst show of all time, the Chicago Tribune reported. Springer later told the Bleacher Report that his show was “escapist entertainment,” though critics said it contributed to a moral decline in the U.S.

“Jerry Springer” reached millions of viewers and aired more than 4,000 episodes with titles including “Stripper Sex Turned Me Straight” and “Hooking Up With My Therapist,” The Associated Press reported.

“This is just a silly show,” Springer said in 2000, according to BBC News. “My show is about outrageous (behavior) so by definition everyone on the show has to be outrageous.”

In 2019, Springer began hosting the courtroom reality show “Judge Jerry,” which ran until 2022. In 2007 and 2008, he hosted the second and third seasons of “America’s Got Talent.”

Earlier, from 1977 to 1978, he served as Cincinnati’s mayor after years spent on the city council, the Enquirer reported. He sought the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor in 1982 and lost, according to the newspaper.

He is survived by his wife, Micki Velton, and daughter Katie, Variety reported.

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