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Jerry Springer
Jerry Springer Musto Party 2011 Shankbone 10.JPG
Springer in 2011
Gerald Norman Springer

(1944-02-13)February 13, 1944
London, England
Died April 27, 2023(2023-04-27) (aged 79)
Nationality American
  • Television host
  • attorney
  • politician
  • Jerry Springer (1991–2018)
  • Judge Jerry (2019–2022)
Political party Democratic
Micki Velton
(m. 1973; div. 1994)
Children 1
56th Mayor of Cincinnati
In office
January 1, 1977 – January 1, 1978
Preceded by Jim Luken
Succeeded by Bobbie L. Sterne
Member of the Cincinnati City Council
In office
January 1, 1976 – 1981
In office
January 1, 1972 – April 29, 1974

Gerald Norman Springer (February 13, 1944 – April 27, 2023) was an American broadcaster, journalist, actor, producer, lawyer, and politician. Born in London during World War II to refugees escaping the Holocaust, Springer was raised in Queens, New York City. He attended Northwestern University School of Law, qualified as a lawyer, and first became actively involved in politics working for the campaign of Robert Kennedy in 1968.

A Cincinnati City Council member, Springer served as the 56th Mayor of Cincinnati from 1977 to 1978. He then worked as a local news anchor in Cincinnati where he won several Regional Emmy Awards for commentary. Springer was best known for hosting the tabloid talk show Jerry Springer from 1991 to 2018. He was also the host of America's Got Talent from 2007 to 2008, and of the courtroom show Judge Jerry from 2019 to 2022. Off television, he hosted The Jerry Springer Podcast from 2015 to 2022. He was noted as a pioneer in the emergence of 'trash TV'; his eponymous show was a "commercial smash and certifiable cultural phenomenon" in the 1990s.

Early life

Gerald Norman Springer was born on February 13, 1944, in the London Underground station of Highgate while the station was in use as a shelter from German bombing during World War II, and grew up on Chandos Road, East Finchley. His parents, Margot (née Kallmann; a bank clerk) and Richard Springer (owner of a shoe shop), were German-Jewish refugees who escaped from Landsberg an der Warthe, Prussia (now Gorzów Wielkopolski, Poland). His maternal grandmother, Marie Kallmann, who was left behind, died in the gas vans of Chełmno extermination camp (German-occupied Poland). His paternal grandmother, Selma Springer (née Elkeles), died at the hospital in the Theresienstadt concentration camp (German-occupied Czechoslovakia). Selma Springer's brother, Hermann Elkeles, was a renowned Berlin doctor who also died at Theresienstadt concentration camp.

In January 1949, when Springer was four, his family immigrated to the United States, settling in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens, a borough of New York City. He attended nearby Forest Hills High School. One of his earliest memories about current events was when he was 12 and watching the 1956 Democratic National Convention on television where he saw and was impressed by then-Senator John F. Kennedy.

Springer earned a Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University in 1965, majoring in political science. He earned a Juris Doctor from Northwestern University in 1968.


Kennedy campaign and early law career

Springer worked as a political campaign adviser to Democrat Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Following Kennedy's assassination, he began practicing law at the Cincinnati law firm of Frost & Jacobs, now Frost Brown Todd.

Springer was a partner in the law firm of Grinker, Sudman & Springer from 1973 to 1985, alongside former NBA agent Ronnie Grinker (d. 1997) and current Butler County, Ohio, magistrate Harry Sudman.

Political career

In 1970, Springer ran for the United States House of Representatives. He failed to unseat incumbent Republican Donald D. Clancy, but took 45% of the vote in a traditionally Republican district. He had previously spearheaded the effort to lower the voting age, including testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of ratification of the 26th Amendment. Three days after announcing his candidacy, Springer, who was also an Army reservist at the time, was called to active duty and stationed at Fort Knox. He resumed his campaign after he was discharged.

Springer was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971. On April 29, 1974, Springer resigned from the council. He ran for the office in 1975, winning by a landslide. He was reelected in 1977 and 1979. Springer was considered a "gonzo" type politician with stunts such as staying a night in jail and commandeering a bus after the city took over bus service.

In 1977, Springer was chosen by the Cincinnati City Council to serve for one year as mayor. The one-year term was due to a political arrangement at the time that required the Democrats to split the mayoral term with a local third party group, the Charter Committee, with whom the Democrats governed in an electoral alliance. (Cincinnati has since changed to direct election of its mayor.) In the city council and as mayor, Springer supported changing the local election system so that council members would be elected by districts (thus better representing neighborhood interests) instead of "9X" at-large system, but his efforts (as well as those of everyone else, to date, who has supported such a change) did not meet with success.

In 1981, Springer stepped down from his seat on the City Council in order to focus on run for governor of Ohio, seeking the Democratic nomination in the 1982 Ohio gubernatorial election. He failed to win the Democratic party's nomination—finishing a distant third behind former lieutenant governor Richard F. Celeste and Ohio Attorney General William J. Brown—and his political career was put on hold. In the late 1980s, he played a major role in saving the historic Cincinnati Union Terminal.

Springer considered running for the United States Senate in 2000 and 2004, but he backed down due to negative associations with the Jerry Springer talk show. He also considered running in the 2018 Ohio gubernatorial election, but decided against it due to his age. Even after his departure from politics, he was the largest contributor to the Hamilton County Democratic Party from 1993 to 2018.

Broadcast career

Springer's broadcast career started while he was an undergraduate at Tulane University, on WTUL New Orleans FM, a progressive format college radio station. It continued while he was still mayor of Cincinnati, with album-oriented rock radio station WEBN-FM, which was noted for its laid-back and irreverent radio format. The station featured commentaries by Springer under the banner "The Springer Memorandum." The popularity of these commentaries launched his broadcasting career.

Springer was hired as a political reporter and commentator on Cincinnati's NBC affiliate, WLWT, which had, at the time, the lowest-rated news program. Later, having been named primary news anchor and managing editor, he needed a broadcast catchphrase in the model of other great newsmen. With the help of some others at WLWT, he created his signature line: "Take care of yourself, and each other." Within two years he was Cincinnati's number-one news anchor, along with partner Norma Rashid. For five years, he was the most popular news anchor in the city, garnering ten local Emmy Awards for his nightly commentaries, which were frequently satirized by Cincinnati radio personality Gary Burbank. Those commentaries would eventually become his "Final Thought" on Jerry Springer. Springer would remain commentator at WLWT until January 1993. He resided in Loveland, Ohio, during this time.

In 1997, the Chicago-based NBC-owned station WMAQ-TV hired Springer to serve as a news commentator. However, this proved to be unpopular among viewers, as it resulted in the resignation of long-time news anchors Ron Magers and Carol Marin due to Springer's talk show. After performing only two commentaries, Springer resigned as commentator.

Jerry Springer (1991–2018)

Jerry Springer debuted on September 30, 1991. It started as a politically oriented talk show, a longer version of Springer's commentaries. Guests on the show included Oliver North and Jesse Jackson, and topics included homelessness and gun politics.

In early 1994, Springer and his new producer, Richard Dominick, revamped the show's format in order to garner higher ratings. The show became more successful as it became targeted toward tabloidish sensationalism. Guests were everyday people confronted on a television stage. These confrontations were often promoted by scripted shouting or violence on stage. The show received substantial ratings and much attention. By 1998, it was beating The Oprah Winfrey Show in many cities, and was reaching more than 6.7 million viewers.

Jerry Springer: The Opera was inspired by him and his talk show. For the New York City performances of the work at Carnegie Hall his character was portrayed by Harvey Keitel.

In 2005, a UK version of the show aired on Britain's ITV network titled The Springer Show. A subdued and more tongue-in-cheek version of the US show, it beat its talk-show rival Trisha Goddard five to one in the ratings.

The VH1 "celebreality" series The Springer Hustle, which took a look at how Jerry Springer is produced, premiered in April 2007.

In April 2015, Springer debuted The Jerry Springer Podcast on his website, He later partnered with Westwood One to stream the podcast. It was also broadcast in the UK on Talkradio, on Sundays at midnight. Springer was the second American talk show host to travel to Cuba, after Conan O'Brien, for The Jerry Springer Podcast. The podcast ended in 2022.

On July 26, 2018, Jerry Springer aired its final episode in syndication after 27 seasons before it began airing reruns on The CW on September 10, 2018.

Judge Jerry (2019–2022)

Springer debuted a new courtroom show, Judge Jerry, on September 9, 2019. The show gave him the opportunity to host a more "grown-up" program and to use his law school education. On March 9, 2022, the series was canceled after three seasons.


Springer in January 2011

Springer hosted America's Got Talent on NBC for its second and third seasons, replacing Regis Philbin, before leaving to concentrate on other projects.

From January 17, 2005, to December 5, 2006, Springer hosted Springer on the Radio, a liberal talk show on Cincinnati's WCKY-AM. He did the show from the Clear Channel studios in Kenwood, Ohio on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and in Chicago (where his television show taped at the time) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Air America Radio syndicated the program for most of the show's run.

He hosted Miss World in 2000 and 2001 and the Miss Universe 2008. He was also the guest host for WWE Raw on February 15, 2010, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. Springer also hosted The Price Is Right Live!.

From 2010 to 2015, Springer hosted a dating game show called Baggage, which aired on GSN.

In July 2012, he hosted ''Price is Right Live!'' in Vancouver's Boulevard Casino. He hosted the show at Jack Cincinnati Casino in 2018.

From January 2014, Springer hosted Investigation Discovery series Tabloid.

He hosted The Adam Carolla Show on April 25, 2014, where he sat in for Adam Carolla.

Springer guest hosted the 22nd-season premiere episode of WWE Raw on September 8, 2014, in an attempt to conduct an intervention with The Bella Twins.

Springer hosted the show Jerry Springer Presents WWE Too Hot For TV on the WWE Network in 2015.


After a few years of his US talk show being broadcast in the UK, ITV approached Springer, who temporarily co-hosted This Morning with Judy Finnigan in March 1999 and again in 2000. In summer 1999, ITV made 12 episodes of the UK-based version of the series, Jerry Springer UK, filmed at the same studios as his US show.

In September 1999, Springer made a pilot for a David Letterman-style talk show for ITV called Jerry Springer on Sunday. The show received good reviews and ratings and a further four episodes were commissioned to be broadcast in May 2000. Five were actually broadcast during May and June 2000 under the name Springer.

The series was picked up by Channel 5 and renamed Late Night with Jerry Springer. Two series were made in 2000 and 2001 with 16 episodes. While working for Channel 5 In 2001, he was the host of the UK version of Greed, and a stand in host for The Wright Stuff. On April 16, 2006, Springer was the guest host for the opening show for the third series of The Friday Night Project for Channel 4 and guest hosted Have I Got News for You on December 12, 2008. In 2007, he signed on to host Nothing But the Truth, the UK version of Nada más que la verdad.

Springer covered the 2016 United States presidential election for ITV's Good Morning Britain.

In 2016, 2017 and 2018, he guest hosted three episodes of the BBC's The One Show with TV host Alex Jones.

In the media


Springer appeared in an episode of Married... with Children as the host of a talk show called The Masculine Feminist.

Springer starred in the 1998 film Ringmaster as a talk show host largely based on himself, though named "Jerry Farrelly". Ringmaster offers a behind-the-scenes look at would-be guests who apply to a Springer-like show. The same year, Springer also released an unrelated autobiography named Ringmaster. He quipped, "I can only think of one title a year."

In 2004, he played the US president in The Defender, directed by Dolph Lundgren.

He was in several episodes of George Lopez as Benny Lopez's ex-boyfriend Wayne and made a July 2007 guest appearance on Days of Our Lives as "Pete", a high roller in Las Vegas who helped Nick Fallon win $50,000. On October 19, 2007, Springer made a cameo appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien as a "random" audience member.

In June 2012, he appeared in Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre London as Billy Flynn for a short period of time, starring alongside Aoife Mulholland and Leigh Zimmerman.

He had a cameo appearance as himself in episode 2 of the Netflix show Happy!.

In 1996, he appeared on an episode of the ninth season of Roseanne and on The X-Files episode "The Post-Modern Prometheus". In 1998, he voiced a cartoon version of himself in the "Starship Poopers" segment of The Simpsons Halloween episode, Treehouse of Horror IX. That same year, he appeared as himself on an episode of The Wayans Bros.. In 1999, he appeared in the episode "Mrs. Kraft" of the third season of Sabrina the Teenage Witch with his talk show. That same year, he was in an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast. He made a cameo appearance in Austin Powers: The Spy Who ... Me (1999) as himself during an episode of his show featuring Dr. Evil and his estranged son Scott Evil. In 2001, he appeared as a claymation version of himself in an episode Gary & Mike with a parody of his talk show. In 2007, he appeared on episode No. 1301 of MADtv as himself.

Television appearances

Springer was a guest in the following shows: the UK daytime programme The Paul O'Grady Show on Channel 4 on November 12, 2007, Question Time on June 19, 2008, Saturday Kitchen on June 21, 2008, along with chef Theresa Griegson and Kristin Dawson, Verdict with Dan Abrams in June 2008, two appearances on Whose Line Is It Anyway? in 2003 (from the same taping), The Jason Ellis Show on June 20, 2008, Desert Island Discs on November 1, 2009, Hell's Kitchen on October 13, 2010, and Drop the Mic on April 15, 2018.

In 2009, Springer appeared as a guest on the British game show Countdown. He appeared on the Chris Moyles Show in April 2009 and was a guest on The Andrew Marr Show on May 31, 2009.

He was interviewed by satirist Chris Morris in his surreal radio series Blue Jam (Series 2, Episode 6). On January 23, 2004, Springer was featured in an episode of This American Life titled "Leaving the Fold".

In late 2006, Springer was a contestant on the third season of Dancing with the Stars, with his professional dance partner, Kym Johnson. He wanted to appear on the show so he could learn the waltz for the wedding of his daughter, Katie. Springer and Johnson were eliminated in the seventh week of competition.

Springer appeared in an episode of BBC One's television series Who Do You Think You Are? on August 27, 2008. In the episode he traveled to Poland, where he discovered that his maternal grandmother had been sent to Chełmno extermination camp by the Nazis and killed. His paternal grandmother died at Theresienstadt concentration camp in what is the Czech Republic. He wept openly when he learned of how they died.

Springer was a guest panellist on episodes of 8 Out of 10 Cats in 2014, Through the Keyhole in 2015, and QI ("Noodles") in 2017.

In 2022, Springer competed in season eight of The Masked Singer as "Beetle". He was eliminated on "Muppet Night" alongside Kat Graham as "Robo-Girl".

Other projects

Jerry Springer at Emory (cropped)
Springer giving a speech at Emory University in 2007

In 1995, Springer recorded the album Dr. Talk for Fiddle Fish Records, which mostly consisted of country music covers.

On May 16, 2008, Springer delivered the Northwestern University School of Law commencement address. Although many students had criticized the university's choice of speaker, he received a standing ovation from about half the audience and reviews of his speech were generally positive. He later stated that his speech was about "the ethical judgments we all have to make in whatever business we go [into]".

Personal life

Springer was married to Micki Velton. The couple divorced in 1994 after a nearly 20-year marriage. They had a daughter, Katie (born 1976). She was born without nasal passages, for which she required immediate surgery after birth, and is blind as well as deaf in one ear. In a 2006 interview, she stated that her parents were always supportive despite her health complications and that they did not raise her differently. In 2006, Springer donated $230,000 to Park School in Chicago, where his daughter worked as an assistant teacher, to help construct a high-tech facility called "Katie's Corner" for students with disabilities.


Springer died at his home in Evanston, Illinois on April 27, 2023 at the age of 79. A family spokesperson said that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few months prior to his death.


During his career, Springer and his program quickly became a cultural phenomenon, with commentators describing the show as central to the emergence of trash TV. After his death, The Guardian said that Springer "changed US television for better and worse". Despite his controversial career, he had a large fanbase from millennials, as his show gained popularity throughout their childhoods, leading the Los Angeles Times to dub him the "millennials' babysitter".

Springer was credited for creating a new television format which encouraged conflict among its guests. USA Today cited him as an inspiration for other tabloid talk shows such as Maury and The Steve Wilkos Show, with the latter program being hosted by a former security guard and guest host for Springer's show. Forbes said that Springer's impact on the television landscape "will live on forever". The Associated Press said that Springer's show was "a US cultural pariah, synonymous with lurid drama".

During an interview, David Yontef hailed Springer as the "architect of reality TV". In an obituary for Springer, The Irish Times said that Springer had changed the "television medium" through "The Jerry Springer Formula", which was "straightforward, despicable and ingenious". The BBC noted that Springer had televised the "fringes of [American] society to a global audience" and called him an "era-defining TV host".

See also

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