(NEXSTAR) — Jerry Springer, the legendary talk show host and former mayor and news anchor, has died, according to a statement from his family shared with multiple outlets. He was 79.
Springer passed away peacefully at his home in Chicago Thursday, a spokesperson for his family told WLWT.
“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,” Jene Galvin, a lifelong friend and spokesman for the family, told the outlet. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”
Springer died after a brief illness, the statement added. Speaking with NBC News, a family spokesperson said Springer had been battling pancreatic cancer, which he had reportedly been diagnosed with a few months ago.
Gerald Norman Springer was born Feb. 13, 1944, in a London underground railway station being used as a bomb shelter. His parents, Richard and Margot, were German Jews who fled to England during the Holocaust, during which other relatives were killed in Nazi gas chambers. They arrived in the United States when their son was 5 and settled in the Queens borough of New York City, where Springer got his first Yankees baseball gear on his way to becoming a lifelong fan.
Springer studied political science at Tulane University and got a law degree from Northwestern University. He was active in politics much of his adult life, mulling a run for governor of Ohio as recently as 2017.
He entered the arena as an aide in Robert F. Kennedy’s ill-fated 1968 presidential campaign. Springer, working for a Cincinnati law firm, ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1970 before being elected to city council in 1971.
Springer abruptly left his position in 1974, explaining that he admitted to the FBI that he had paid for prostitutes on two occasions during his time as councilman. As the Cincinnati Enquirer explains, Springer won back his council seat in 1975, then became mayor of Cincinnati in 1977. Five years later, he unsuccessfully ran for governor of Ohio.
After leaving politics, Springer joined WLWT in Cincinnati as a news anchor and commentator.
In the 1990s, Springer became a staple of daytime television. “The Jerry Springer Show” was filled with seething spurned lovers, gender-fluid guests (before that was a term) and pretty much anyone who was spoiling for a fight. It even provoked serious end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it talk.
TV Guide ranked the show No. 1 on a list of “Worst Shows in the History of Television,” but it was ratings gold. It made Springer a celebrity who would go on to host a liberal radio talk show and “America’s Got Talent,” star in a movie called “Ringmaster,” and compete on “Dancing With the Stars.”
In 2018, after more than 4,000 episodes, “The Jerry Springer Show” came to an end.
During an interview with The Associated Press at his show’s 25th anniversary three years ago, Springer said that anyone could do his job if they learned three phrases: “You did what?” ”Come on out!” and “We’ll be right back.”
Springer also appeared in another short-lived show, “Judge Jerry,” which ran for three seasons starting in 2019. More recently, Springer appeared on “The Masked Singer” as “The Beetle.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.