Jerry Springer, who taped controversial show in Connecticut, dies at 79
Jerry Springer, the onetime mayor and news anchor whose namesake TV show featured a three-ring circus of dysfunctional guests willing to bare all — sometimes literally — as they brawled and hurled obscenities before a raucous audience, died Thursday at 79.
At its peak, “The Jerry Springer Show” was a ratings powerhouse and a U.S. cultural pariah, synonymous with lurid drama. Known for chair-throwing and bleep-filled arguments, the daytime talk show was a favorite American guilty pleasure over its 27-year run, at one point topping Oprah Winfrey’s show.
Springer called it “escapist entertainment,” while others saw the show as contributing to a dumbing-down decline in American social values.
“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,” said Jene Galvin, a family spokesperson and friend of Springer’s since 1970, in a statement. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”
Springer died peacefully at home in suburban Chicago after a brief illness, the statement said
On his Twitter profile, Springer jokingly declared himself as “Talk show host, ringmaster of civilization’s end.” He also often had told people, tongue in cheek, that his wish for them was “may you never be on my show.”
After more than 4,000 episodes, the show ended in 2018, never straying from its core salaciousness: Some of its last episodes had such titles as “Stripper Sex Turned Me Straight,” “Stop Pimpin’ My Twin Sister,” and “Hooking Up With My Therapist.”
In a “Too Hot For TV” video released as his daily show neared 7 million viewers in the late 1990s, Springer offered a defense against disgust.
“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 said, adding: “Believe this: The politicians and companies that seek to control what each of us may watch are a far greater danger to America and our treasured freedom than any of our guests ever were or could be.”
He also contended that the people on his show volunteered to be subjected to whatever ridicule or humiliation awaited them.
Springer relocated his show to the Rich Forum in downtown Stamford in 2009, where it became an attraction for visitors and locals until the show ended in 2018. He went on to tape his next show, “Judge Jerry,” in Stamford, as well. It ran for three seasons before being canceled last year.
On Thursday, as news of Springer’s death spread, the Rich Forum paid tribute to him on the marquee, by displaying his signature sign-off, “Take care of yourself and each other.” The building still has Springer’s picture on the side of it, which some fans stopped by to take a selfie with.
Steve Wilkos, who tapes his own talk show in downtown Stamford and got his TV start as head of security on Springer’s show, released a statement to News 12 on his TV mentor’s death:
"Other than my father, Jerry was the most influential man in my life. Everything I have today I owe to Jerry. He was the smartest, most generous, kindest person I've ever known. My wife and I are devastated. We will miss him terribly."