Through his hugely successful TV show, Jerry Springer turned warring families and dysfunctional relationships into visual entertainment for the masses, helping to create a new idea of celebrity. language.
American broadcaster and politician, who died at the age of 79, was a campaign adviser to Robert F. Kennedy, was a journalist and served as the mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio.
But he will be best remembered for hosting The Jerry Springer Show, which ran from 1991 to 2018 in the United States.
Described as “anti-Oprah”, the tabloid-style show features outrageously personal plays that include stage fights, swearing and nudity.
Its most memorable episodes tackled issues including adultery and incest and featured titles like I Married a Horse and I’m Happy to Cut My Legs.
Gerald Norman Springer was born on February 13, 1944 in a London Underground station used as a bomb shelter during World War II.
His parents were German Jews who had fled the Holocaust, and he later told how many of his relatives had been killed by the Nazis in concentration camps.
Springer came to the United States at the age of 5 and his family settled in Queens, New York City.
He studied political science at Tulane University in 1965 before transferring to Northwestern University.
His political career began when he was hired as a campaign adviser to Robert F. Kennedy of the Democratic Party.
Springer ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1970 but was elected to the city council the following year.
A scandal involving alleged use of prostitutes failed to hinder his advancement – he won a council seat in 1975 and was appointed mayor in 1977. .
It was in 1991 that he launched his eponymous talk show and improved the television scene.
What started as a relatively traditional format, addressing political issues including homelessness and gun ownership, changed in early 1994 when Springer and his new producer, Richard Dominick , improved this format to increase ratings.
Over the decades, the show has garnered huge viewership, despite widespread criticism of its content, and is credited with inspiring The Jeremy Kyle Show in the UK.
It even topped the US publication TV Guide’s list of the worst shows in television history.
Springer discontinued the format in 2018 after about 4,000 episodes and started a new show with NBCUniversal called Judge Jerry.
He still makes regular appearances on TV, appearing on BBC’s Who do you think you are? traced the Springer family through the Holocaust to the small town of Neustettin, in present-day Poland.
2003 Jerry Springer: The Opera, written by Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee, premiered in London.
With all of the TV show’s antics along with a group of Ku Klux Klan members dancing tap-dance, it has won numerous awards, including four Oliviers.
In June 2009, Springer made his theatrical debut as Billy Flynn in Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre, London.
Springer later admitted his TV show was a “circus” and “crazy” but he also defended its more extreme content.
“In any population of 50,000, you will have some mean people, some crazy people, some racists, some people beating their spouses,” he said at the United Nations. Edinburgh TV Festival 2019.
“You can have all kinds of people.”