Jerry Springer, iconic TV show host and former mayor of Cincinnati, dead at 79

Jerry Springer, the TV talk show host and television personality who briefly served as mayor of Cincinnati, has died, his publicist confirmed to CBS News on Thursday morning. He was 79.

Springer died peacefully on Thursday morning at his home in Chicago after an illness, the Associated Press reported.

“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 after his death, according to the AP. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”

A former attorney and politician, Springer was elected the 56th mayor of Cincinnati in 1977 and held the role until 1978. He is known best for his namesake talk series, “Jerry Springer,” a raucous show often featuring dysfunctional families which ran for nearly three decades. Springer later appeared on the popular competition show “America’s Got Talent” for a short stint between 2007 and 2008, before moving on to host the NBC courtroom reality series “Judge Jerry.”

Before rising to public prominence on television, Springer began his career in politics with a congressional campaign in 1970. Although unsuccessful, the race preceded his election the following year to the Cincinnati City Council, where he served for three years until his resignation in 1974 after a well-documented sex scandal. Springer launched a campaign in the early 1980s for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Ohio, but did not win.

Judge Jerry Springer
In this April 15, 2010, file photo, talk show host Jerry Springer speaks in New York.

Richard Drew / AP

Springer reached global fame with his transition into daytime television, which came with the debut of his extraordinarily popular albeit culturally criticized talk show “Jerry Springer” in 1991. The series remembered for chair-throwing as well as other dramatic onscreen outbursts consistently pulled top ratings and went on to air more than 4,000 episodes until its eventual finale in 2018.

Throughout his ascent in the entertainment industry, Springer continued to generate some buzz in political arenas. In 2003, there was talk of whether he would file to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate, but his path to Congress was eventually thwarted by the show.

Born on February 13, 1944, in London, Springer and his family moved to the United States during his childhood and settled in Queens. He spent the earlier part of his political career as an adviser to Robert F. Kennedy and later moved into a role at a Cincinnati law firm following Kennedy’s death.

Springer married Micki Velton in 1973 and the pair remained together for almost 20 years until their divorce in 1994. They share one child, Katie Springer, who was born in 1976. 

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates.

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