Legendary talk show host Jerry Springer passed away

NEW YORK: Longtime US talk show host Jerry Springer, whose programme became a symbol of low brow television with its on-air fights, swearing and infidelity revelations, died on Thursday at the age of 79.

Springer, whose rowdy show became an international hit that ran for 27 years and at the height of its popularity even beat Oprah, died peacefully at his home in Chicago, according to a family statement given to US media.

Launched in 1991, “The Jerry Springer Show” began life as an ordinary talk show focusing on social issues and US politics, led by the then mild-mannered lawyer and former politician Springer, who briefly served as the mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1977.

But in an effort to boost ratings, the son of Jewish German immigrants switched things up dramatically after a few years, focusing on salacious and outrageous content.

In most episodes, guests came to talk about family problems and expose adultery and other transgressions.

Springer would supposedly try to mediate but the encounters often ended up in fisticuffs, with guests being held back by security guards. Many shows were punctuated by his audience roaring his name: “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!”

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“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,” a family spokesman told WLWT, the Ohio NBC affiliate where he started his career.

In the late 1990s, his show topped the daytime television ratings in the United States, briefly leaving the cultural giant that is “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in its wake.

While Oprah preached wellness and healing, Springer appealed to rougher instincts, igniting criticisms that he was contributing to the “dumbing down of America.” When versions of the show began running internationally it fascinated audiences overseas, even inspiring an opera that debuted in London in 2003.

“There is nothing about ‘The Jerry Springer Show’ to be applauded,” wrote Variety in its obituary of the tabloid talk show host, adding that his guests “were packaged as freaks and brought onstage to be mocked.”

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