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Jerry Springer, former Cincinnati mayor and talk show host, dead at 79


CNN

By Lisa Respers France and Marianne Garvey, CNN

Jerry Springer, the former Cincinnati mayor and and long time TV host whose tabloid talk show was known for outrageous arguments, thrown chairs and physical confrontations between sparring couples and homewreckers, has died, a family spokesperson said Thursday. Springer was 79.

“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.

Springer once told CNN that he did not mind being referred to as the “grandfather of trash TV,” saying in 2010, as “The Jerry Springer Show” celebrated its 20th anniversary on the air: “It’s probably accurate. I don’t know what the award for that is, but I think it is true that we were probably one of the first shows to present some of the outrageousness we have.”

The show ended in 2018, after more than 4,000 episodes and countless think pieces about Springer’s role in the decline of culture, if not civilization.

Springer had said he had no delusions about his show, with its topics such as “Trick or Cheaters,” “Confront this Dominatrix” and “Lesbians Come Clean.”

“I think [the show is] silly, crazy and has no redeeming social value other than an hour of escapism,” he said in 2010. “There is never anything on our show that hasn’t been on the front pages of newspapers in America. The only difference is that the people on my show aren’t famous.”

“It’s a show about craziness,” he added. “I know that going in every day.”

The show’s notoriety peaked in 2000, when a German man was accused of killing his ex-wife after they appeared together on Springer’s show with the man’s new wife. Ralf Panitz was convicted of second-degree murder for beating Nancy Panitz to death. That year, Springer appeared on “Larry King Live,” in his first major interview since the murder.

At the time, Springer said the murder had “nothing to do with the show.”

“Well, one, it’s horrible that obviously the person was murdered,” he told King. “It had nothing to do with the show. But that — it still — it’s horrible.”

A career that began in politics

Before becoming a television host, Springer studied political science at Tulane University and went on to receive a law degree from Northwestern. He served on Cincinnati’s City Council in 1971 and became the city’s mayor in 1977, serving one term.

“If government, any government, is to have any positive effect on our lives, which after all, is its purpose – to make life more tolerable – then that government must bear some relationship to how we live,” he said in his mayoral inauguration speech.

In 1982, Springer tried for the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor and lost. After that he became a news anchor at WLWT in Cincinnati.

Springer’s anchor work led to a Cincinnati-based talk show that later became the nationally syndicated, “The Jerry Springer Show.”

In 1998, he told WLWT of the people who objected to his show: “I think that’s fair. I think this show probably does offend some people and they should protest. That’s okay. That’s America. That’s why god gave us a remote control.”

More recently, he inked a deal with NBC in 2018 for a new show, “Judge Jerry,” that featured him as a judge in a courtroom. He also hosted a podcast.

In their statement, Springer’s family asked supporters to consider making a charitable donation or doing an act of kindness for someone in need to honor his memory.

“As he always said, ‘Take care of yourself, and each other,'” they wrote.

After Springer’s death, tributes poured in from fellow television hosts and contemporaries. Sally Jessy Raphael, who hosted her own tabloid talk show before the rise of “The Jerry Springer Show,” and later shared the daytime airwaves of the 1990s with him, expressed her condolences following his death.

“I’m extremely sad at the news of Jerry Springer’s passing,” Raphael wrote in a statement to CNN. “He was a bright, funny man whom I considered to be a friend. He will be missed.”

Actor Marlon Wayans — who once appeared on “The Jerry Springer Show” with his brother, Shawn, in a true snapshot of 1990s pop culture — shared warm words for the late talk show host after hearing word of his death Thursday.

“So glad we got to do this classic episode with you in Chicago,” Wayans wrote in a Facebook post, including a clip from the show.

“Rest well buddy. We will all be chanting JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!” the actor added, referencing the iconic chant heard by audiences of Springer’s show over the course of its run.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Matt Meyer, Adrienne Vogt and Aditi Sangal contributed to this report.

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