TELEVISION personality Jerry Springer, known for a long-running talk show that featured raucous audiences, controversial topics and fist-fighting guests and who briefly served as Cincinnati mayor, died at age 79 on Thursday, his family said.
Springer died peacefully after a brief illness at his home in suburban Chicago, his family said in a statement. The cause of death was not specified.
“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,” lifelong friend and family spokesman Jene Galvin said in the statement.
Springer was born in London on February 13, 1944, and immigrated to New York City when he was 4 years old. In 1965, Springer graduated from Tulane University and then went to Northwestern University where he got a law degree, before serving in the United States Army Reserves.
He moved to Ohio, where he served on the city council and then as the city’s 56th mayor in 1977. Five years later, he ran for the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor but lost.
Springer then worked as a news anchor at WLWT 5, an NBC Cincinnati affiliate. In 1991, Springer landed his own television program, a syndicated talk show broadcast across the United States until 2018.
The daytime program, known as “The Jerry Springer Show,” was initially a politically oriented show but later featured everyday people discussing sensationalistic topics, often related to unconventional sexuality.
On his Twitter page, Springer described himself as a “talk show host, ringmaster of civilization’s end.”
His show was the subject of a British musical known as “Jerry Springer: The Opera” which was performed in London, Las Vegas and New York City between 2001 and 2019.
In 2006, Springer enjoyed a long run on the popular “Dancing With the Stars” TV show. He also hosted several TV shows, including “America’s Got Talent” and pageants such as the 2008 Miss Universe contest.