By: Megan Hastings
Media Production Editor
American politician, lawyer, and talk show host Jerry Springer died in his Chicago home on Apr. 27 at the age of 79. A family spokesman released a statement saying Springer was battling a “brief illness.” Reports later revealed that the illness was pancreatic cancer. The cause of death came as a shock to many, as Springer never publicly announced his diagnosis.
Springer was born on Feb. 13, 1944, in a London underground railway station that served as a bomb shelter. His parents, Richard and Margot, were German Jews who escaped the Holocaust and moved to England. Unfortunately, some of their relatives did not survive and perished in Nazi gas chambers. When Springer was five-years-old, his family immigrated to the United States and settled in the Queens borough of New York City.
Springer earned a law degree from Northwestern University in 1968 and found a passion in politics. After winning election to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971, Springer found himself involved in a scandal. Springer wrote a check for prostitution services at a massage parlor in Kentucky. He resigned due to the scandal but was re-elected in 1975. He went on to become the mayor of Cincinnati and later ran for Governor of Ohio. After finishing third in the Democratic primary, he made a career change, joining WLWT-TV in Cincinnati.
The Jerry Springer Show first aired in 1991, following Springer’s multiple Emmy nominations and wins as a news commentator. The Los Angeles Times described the show as “an oppressively self-important talk hour starring a Cincinnati news anchorman and former mayor.” Audiences tuned in to watch the profanity of the guests, who found themselves in often embarrassing and shameful situations. The show’s viewership peaked in 1998 at eight million. Because of the many controversial guests he invited, viewers frequently condemned Springer and his show for contributing to the rise of “trash TV.” Springer was seemingly fine with his correlation with “trash TV” as he jokingly declared himself, “Talk show host, ringmaster of civilization’s end.” The show ended in 2018 after more than 4,000 episodes.
Springer is survived by his daughter, Katie, and older sister, Evelyn. Jerry Galvin, a friend of Springer since 1970, said, “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 relatives request that people consider honoring Jerry by giving to a deserving charity or organization or by doing an act of kindness in his memory.
(Sources: CNN, People, NBC, The New York Times)