A television icon. Jerry Springer is best known for his eponymous talk show, but his broadcasting career began when he was still a college student.
The London-born star cut his teeth with a radio show while enrolled at Tulane University. He went on to become a political reporter and commentator on Cincinnati’s NBC affiliate, WLWT. During his tenure on the show in the 1980s and early 1990s, the low-rated broadcast became the Cincinnati market’s top-rated news show. With the help of some of his WLWT colleagues, Springer created his signature catchphrase, “Take care of yourself and each other.”
The journalist was also a politician long before Jerry Springer’s 1991 premiere. He was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971 but resigned in 1974 after he admitted to soliciting a sex worker. However, the scandal was not the end of his political career.
Springer won back his council seat in 1975 after honestly addressing his past. He opened up about the controversy again in a television advertisement for his 1982 Ohio gubernatorial run.
”This commercial should be proof. I’m not afraid, even of the truth, and even if it hurts,” he said in the ad.
Although the attorney didn’t win the election, he went on to achieve massive success with his daytime talk show, which ran from 1991 to 2018. Originally created to mimic the format of The Phil Donahue Show, Jerry Springer was later revamped to feature everyday people dealing with controversial issues. Arguments between guests would often result in physical fights.
During a November 2022 appearance on David Yontef’s “Behind the Velvet Rope” podcast, Springer apologized for how the program affected the television landscape.
“I just apologize. I’m so sorry. What have I done? I’ve ruined the culture,” he said, before quipping, “I just hope hell isn’t that hot, because I burn real easy. I’m very light-complected.”
Despite the comments, the politician previously defended the program during a 2019 speech at the Edinburg TV Festival.
“I often heard the word ‘trash’ [used to describe the show] and I would argue that the criticism is elitist,” he said at the time. “When someone’s not wealthy, not good looking and doesn’t speak the queen’s English, we call them trash. That’s elitist.”
Springer died at age 79 in April 2023, more than four years after the talk show’s last episode aired. His death came after a struggle with a brief illness.
“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 Us Weekly at the time. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”
The former Mayor is survived by his daughter, Katie Springer, whom he shares with wife Micki Velton, and his grandson, Richard.
Keep scrolling for a look at Springer’s life over the years: