Jerry Springer, the host and namesake of the iconic and controversial tabloid talk show for over two decades, has died at age 79.
Springer, who was also the mayor of Cincinnati for one year in the 1970s, hosted the show throughout its tenure from 1991 to 2018. It aired nearly 5,000 episodes.
“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 family spokesperson, said in a statement to the Associated Press. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”
The Jerry Springer Show was known for its combative moments, including arguments and fights, and discussions about taboo subjects on daytime television. TV Guide named it the “worst TV show of all time,” but Springer embraced the salaciousness of the program.
He is survived by his wife Micki Velton and their daughter Katie.
Before his television career, Springer was a lawyer, an unsuccessful Congressional candidate, and a campaign adviser to Robert F. Kennedy, before running for local office in Cincinnati.
He ran for governor of Ohio in 1982. In a now-infamous TV campaign ad, Springer admitted that nine years earlier he "spent time with a woman I shouldn't have."
"And I paid her with a check. I wish I hadn't done that. And the truth is, I wish no one would ever know," Springer said.
Earlier in the campaign, a pollster for Springer's opponent alleged that Springer had used a bad check to pay for the prostitute's services, The New York Times reported at the time. Springer denied that the check bounced.