The UK-born reality TV star has died, months after reflecting on the impact of his raunchy daytime talk show.
US tabloid television legend Jerry Springer, who died on Thursday, used an interview late last year to express remorse for the effects his eponymous TV show had on American society.
Springer, who was suffering from pancreatic cancer, died peacefully at his home in suburban Chicago on Thursday, according to a statement by his family.
‘The Jerry Springer Show’ debuted in 1991 and was on the air for 27 years, titillating viewers with raunchy topics – from a man who married a horse to a transgender woman who claimed to have cut off her own legs with a saw – and a raucous studio audience featuring breast-baring women and occasional brawls with controversial guests.
Appearing last November on the ‘Behind the Velvet Rope’ podcast, Springer reflected on his show’s legacy. Asked by host David Yontef whether he considered himself the “granddaddy of reality TV,” Springer replied, “No, I just apologize. I’m so sorry. What have I done? I’ve ruined the culture.” He then quipped, “I just hope hell isn’t that hot because I burn real easy. I’m very light-complected, and that kind of worries me.”
Springer shrugged off the commercial success of his show, saying, “I’m just a schlub who got lucky. There was never a thought in my mind, growing up, that I’d be in show business.”
Prior to his career in television, the London-born Springer was a lawyer by trade and worked on the 1968 presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy. He was elected mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1977, at the age of only 33. After a failed run for governor of Ohio, he took a job as an anchorman for Cincinnati’s NBC TV affiliate.
The company that owned the station also happened to own nationally syndicated daytime talk shows. When one of the hosts retired in 1991, the CEO picked Springer to host a new daytime talk program. “I was assigned to it as an employee, and then all of a sudden, the show took off,” he recalled. “So I wound up in show business through no thought of my own. I don’t have any particular show business talent.”
After his talk show ended in 2018, Springer went on to produce a podcast, a short-lived dating program called ‘Baggage’ and a courtroom show called ‘Judge Jerry.’ He also had stints as host of ‘America’s Got Talent’ and a radio talk show. He hosted the ‘Miss World’ and ‘Miss Universe’ beauty pageants, as well as episodes of ‘WWE Raw’ wrestling. He also appeared as a contestant on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and ‘The Masked Singer.’
“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,” his family’s statement said.