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R.I.P. Jerry Springer, influential talk show host and one-time Cincinnati mayor

A family spokesperson said that the influential American broadcaster had been diagnosed with cancer a few months ago; Jerry Springer was 79 years old

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Jerry Springer
Jerry Springer
Photo: Roy Rochlin (Getty Images)

Jerry Springer, the American broadcaster, lawyer, journalist, and one-time Cincinnati mayor known for his long-running syndicated talk show The Jerry Springer Show, died on Thursday at his home in the Chicago area, TMZ first reports and AP confirms. Springer had reportedly been diagnosed with cancer a few months prior; he was 79 years old.

“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 family spokesperson and long-time friend of Springer’s, shares with AP in a statement. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”


Behind the wheel of The Jerry Springer Show, which ran for 27 years between 1991 and 2018 and aired over 4,000 episodes, Springer crafted one of the most successful tabloid talk shows of all time, becoming a household name in the process, ubiquitously recognizable by his audience’s breathless chants of “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry.” The definition of a guilty pleasure, the series drew sky-high ratings—at different points even surpassing Oprah Winfrey’s—and serious criticism for its garish embrace of interpersonal drama and obscenity-heavy on-camera spats. Famously, over the course of the series, more than a few chairs were thrown at more than a few heads.

Throughout his career, Springer also served as a broadcast journalist, political commentator, lawyer, and even (briefly) the mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio (a post he debated revisiting for much of his adult life, and had publicly considered as recently as 2017.) In recent years, Springer had served as a host on the syndicated courtroom show Judge Jerry before it was canceled after three seasons in early 2022; Springer also had stints as a host of America’s Got Talent and competitor on Dancing With the Stars, as well as guest spots on Roseanne, The Simpsons, Married... with Children, The X-Files, George Lopez and MadTV.


Born in 1944 in an underground railway station in London, England, Springer spent his earliest years fleeing Nazi occupation of Germany— his parents, Richard and Margot, were German Jews who escaped to England during the holocaust, eventually bringing the family to Queens, New York when Springer was five years old.

As a student at Tulane University, Springfield nurtured an interest in government, studying political science and later obtaining a law degree from Northwestern University. In 1968, Springer was a part of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s tragic (and ultimately fatal) presidential campaign; Springer made an unsuccessful run of his own, a 1970 bid for Congress, before being elected to Cincinnati’s city council in 1971. Just three years later, he resigned, citing “very personal family considerations,” that were ultimately revealed to include personal checks Springer had paid to sex workers.

Despite the then-scandalous admission, Springer didn’t face too many headwinds politically, winning back his council seat in 1975 and eventually taking the mayoral race in 1977. After a brief stint in office, Springer made the leap to television commentary via NBC affiliate WLWT-TV; from there, it was a clear (if somewhat winding) path to the tantalizingly problematic Jerry Springer format.

In his Twitter bio, Springer jokingly referred to himself as both a “talk show host” and a “ringmaster of civilization’s end.” Although the raised eyebrows Jerry Springer garnered were more than warranted—the show consistently took advantage of vulnerable individuals and subjected them to callous mocking—Springer argued that it wasn’t the job of television to instill or maintain a moral high ground.


“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 shared in a “Too Hot For TV” video released in the late 1990s.

Springer is survived by his long-time wife, Micki Velton, who he wed in 1973, as well as their daughter together, Katie.