Best known for hosting the controversial daytime talk show “The Jerry Springer Show,” which ran for nearly 30 years (from 1991-2018) in broadcast syndication, actor and former politician Jerry Springer has died. He was just 79 years old.
According to TMZ, which first reported the news, a family spokesperson informed them Springer was battling a “brief illness.” Sources, however, told the publication that Springer had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few months ago and this week, “he took a turn for the worse.” Springer died Thursday morning peacefully at his home in Chicago, the spokesperson relayed to TMZ.
Before becoming a daytime television sensation, Springer ran for U.S. Congress in 1970 but did not win. He was later elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971 and became the city’s mayor in 1977. He only served one term, however.
Following the cancellation of “The Jerry Springer Show,” Springer hosted “Judge Jerry” for three seasons. Distributed by NBCUniversal Syndication Studios, the show featured real cases from real people as Springer provided heard cases and rendered verdicts using a dose of his classic wisdom.
As an actor, Springer had more than 40 credits to his name, dating back to his first primetime TV appearance, playing a variation of himself hosting his talk show in a 1993 episode of “Married… with Children.” In 1999, he made an uncredited appearance on the daytime soap opera “Sunset Beach,” playing a census taker named Jerry Fellar. In 2007, he appeared on “Days of our Lives,” playing a gambler named Pete. He shared scenes with Rachel Melvin who played Chelsea and Blake Berris who played Nick on the series at the time.
“I really didn’t want to go, but it’s Jerry and I’m like, ‘I want to see the guy and I love him,” said Steve Wilkos, the former head of security for “The Jerry Springer Show” and current host of the daytime talk show “The Steve Wilkos Show,” in an interview with “Entertainment Tonight” following the news of Springer’s passing. His comments were in response to his most recent meeting with Springer, who had called him so they could get together for cigars.
“He never told me he was ill. And now, I think that night I saw him was his way of saying goodbye to me without saying goodbye. I wish I would have known. I think in his way he was telling me goodbye,” Wilkos continued, noting their previous discussions surrounded topics like how Jerry’s grandkids were doing, not reminiscing about the past.
“He embraced me. He hugged me like he had never done before and he was telling me he loves me,” Wilkos told “Entertainment Tonight” host Kevin Frazier. “We sat down, and I think back now, we were reflecting a lot on the good times that we had, which we normally didn’t do a lot, but this time it was a lot of reflection on the good times that we had together.”
Springer is survived by his daughter Katie and his older sister, Evelyn.