Jerry Springer, a talk show host and ex-mayor of Cincinnati, passed away at the age of 79.

Jerry Springer, who hosted a talk show and served as the mayor of Cincinnati, has died at the age of 79.

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Jerry Springer, who transitioned from a relatively unconventional political career to an incredibly unconventional broadcasting career with his show, "The Jerry Springer Show," which redefined the boundaries of tawdriness on American television in the mid-1990s.

The talk-show format became a platform for shocking confessions, tumultuous arguments fueled by infidelity, and even physical altercations. He passed away on Thursday in the suburbs of Chicago at the age of 79, following a brief illness. Jene Galvin, a family friend and executive producer of Mr. Springer's podcast, confirmed his death with a statement.

After earning a law degree from Northwestern University in 1968, Mr. Springer began his political career and won a seat on the Cincinnati City Council in 1971. However, he soon became embroiled in personal scandal similar to the topics later explored on his talk show. In 1974, he resigned after being caught writing a check for prostitution services at a Kentucky massage parlor.

Despite the scandal, Mr. Springer proved to be a resilient individual, as he was re-elected to the council in 1975. During one of his comeback speeches, he acknowledged the prostitution controversy, stating, "A lot of you don't know anything about me, but I'll tell you one thing you do know: My credit is good," as reported by The Cincinnati Enquirer.

In 1977, Mr. Springer was elected as the mayor of Cincinnati, and in 1982 he campaigned for the position of governor of Ohio, directly addressing the prostitution incident in one of his campaign advertisements.

In his campaign advertisement, Mr. Springer acknowledged the prostitution incident and expressed his willingness to take risks and confront difficult truths as a governor. He declared, "I'm not afraid, even of the truth, and even if it hurts," but ultimately finished third in the Democratic primary.

He subsequently transitioned into a career in media, joining WLWT-TV in Cincinnati as a news commentator, anchor, and managing editor. Over the next ten years, he won or shared multiple Emmy Awards for his local coverage.

Mr. Springer's iconic daytime talk show, "The Jerry Springer Show," was syndicated by Multimedia Entertainment, which also owned WLWT, and began in 1991. Initially, it focused on issue-oriented topics, but The Los Angeles Times criticized it as "an oppressively self-important talk hour starring a Cincinnati news anchorman and former mayor."

However, by 1993, the show's lead-ins had evolved into attention-grabbing teasers such as "Worshiping the Lord with snakes - next, Jerry Springer!" and the shock value of the program continued to escalate. In a notorious 1995 episode, Mr. Springer assisted a young man named Raymond in losing his virginity by offering him a choice of five young women, hidden by a screen.

Raymond's friend Woody accompanied him on the show, unaware that one of the women behind the screen was his 18-year-old virgin sister, as indicated by a scroll on the screen for viewers.

At this point, the talk-show format had essentially become a free-for-all, with hosts like Montel Williams and Sally Jessy Raphael also featuring sensational content. However, Mr. Springer was particularly adept at delivering it in an even more outrageous and attention-grabbing manner than anyone else, as evidenced by his viewership peaking at around eight million in 1998.

Mr. Springer once questioned why it was considered so scandalous for ordinary people to discuss their personal lives on television, remarking, "Why is it outrageous for non-famous individuals to talk about their private lives? Is it only acceptable if attractive people discuss their sexual experiences while unattractive individuals are supposed to keep quiet?"

After airing over 3,000 episodes, "The Jerry Springer Show" concluded in 2018. Regardless of the turmoil that unfolded in front of a studio audience and viewers at home, Mr. Springer always concluded each segment with his signature sign-off: "Take care of yourself, and each other."

Gerald Norman Springer was born on February 13, 1944, in London, England, at an underground station that functioned as a bomb shelter during World War II.

However, Mr. Springer clarified in a 2007 interview with The Chicago Tribune that it was not as dramatic as it sounded. Women in their ninth month of pregnancy were instructed to rest in the subway stations due to the bombings, which had been transformed into maternity wards.

His family relocated to the United States when he was five years old. In a 2008 commencement address at Northwestern University, Mr. Springer spoke about the moment of his arrival.

"When we passed by the Statue of Liberty, all of the ship's passengers gathered on the top deck of this grand ocean liner in silence," he said. "My mother told me in later years (I was 5 at the time) that while we were shivering in the cold, I had asked her: 'What are we looking at? What does the statue mean?' In German, she replied, 'Ein Tag, alles!' (One day, everything!)."

Mr. Springer received a bachelor's degree in political science from Tulane University in 1965. He worked at WTUL, the campus station, and would occasionally check in over the years.

In 2009, he sent a message to the station to commemorate its 50th anniversary, saying, "It was my first job in broadcasting, and it's been a downhill ride ever since."

After graduating from Tulane University, he pursued further education at Northwestern University, where he attended law school. He got a summer job as a clerk at a law firm in Cincinnati in 1967, which marked his first experience with the city that would later play a significant role in his life. The following year, he took a break from his legal studies to work on Robert F. Kennedy's presidential campaign. However, he completed his degree after Mr. Kennedy's assassination.

Following his graduation, Mr. Springer went back to his family home in New York without any concrete plans. But when the Cincinnati firm where he had worked during his summer break offered him a full-time position, he accepted it.

In 1977, Mr. Springer told The Cincinnati Post, "I had to take action to jumpstart my life again."

He quickly became involved in local politics and impressed the Democratic leaders in the city. He ran for Congress in 1970 and, although he lost, he garnered 44 percent of the vote, which was much higher than expected. The following year, he was elected to the City Council.

Thanks to his talk show's popularity, Mr. Springer gained enough fame to land occasional acting roles, often playing a version of himself, in shows such as "Married...With Children," "Roseanne," and "The X-Files."

In addition to his talk show, Mr. Springer appeared on popular reality TV shows such as "Dancing With the Stars" and "The Masked Singer," and even hosted "America's Got Talent" for a period of time. He also hosted a left-leaning political show called "Springer on the Radio" on Air America in 2005, which ran for two years before ending.

In 2008, some Northwestern students expressed objections to Mr. Springer being invited to give the commencement address.

He addressed the controversy by saying, "To the students who invited me — thank you. I am honored. To the students who object to my presence — well, you’ve got a point. I, too, would’ve chosen someone else."

He added, "I've been fortunate to achieve a level of success in my various careers, but let's be honest, I've been just about everything you can't respect: a lawyer, a mayor, a major-market news anchor, and a talk-show host. Pray for me. If I make it to heaven, we're all going."

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