Jerry Springer, whose eponymous talk show brought dysfunctional relationships and violent confrontations to American living rooms for decades, has died at age 79, his family confirmed to multiple outlets.
Springer had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer months earlier, according to Page Six.
The “Jerry Springer” show launched in 1991 as a space for political commentary, but was revamped in 1994 to its more well-known, sensationalist form and ran until 2018.
“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,” family spokesperson Jene Galvin told WLWT, a Cincinnati NBC affiliate. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”
Born in a London underground station to German-Jewish parents in 1944, when the tube was used as a World War II bomb shelter, Springer and his family moved to New York City when he was still young.
Before launching his notorious show, Springer studied law and served as the mayor of Cincinnati from 1977 to 1978. He then worked as a news reporter for a decade.
But he didn’t become a household name for his serious journalism.
Marking the “Jerry Springer” show’s 25th anniversary, The Guardian noted that it had “delivered more on-air fights, ranting white supremacists, adulterous strippers and transphobia” than any other program.
Writing for AV Club in 2014, cultural critic Emily St. James labeled it “exploitative trash” and “America’s id.” She granted, however, that the show functioned as “YouTube before YouTube, widespread Internet fetish porn before widespread Internet fetish porn, reality TV before reality TV.”
Guests, who could range from an unfaithful partner to a hooded Klansman, were trotted out for public mockery as Springer himself looked on with apparent concern.
In 2002, a man who had appeared alongside his ex-wife on an episode of “Springer” about “secret mistresses” two years prior was convicted of her murder. The woman was killed just hours after the episode they appeared in had aired.