Jerry Springer the man many called America’s most controversial talk show host, died on Thursday at 79. He leaves behind a legacy of scandalous, sensational, and sometimes outrageous moments that defined ’90s TV. Here are five facts about his life and career that you may not know.
He was born in a London Subway Station during World War II
Springer was born on February 13, 1944, in the London Underground station of Highgate while the station was in use as a shelter from German bombing. His parents were German-Jewish refugees who escaped from Nazi-occupied Poland. His maternal grandmother died in the gas vans of Chełmno extermination camp, and his paternal grandmother died at the hospital in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
He was a Lawyer and a Politician Before Becoming a Talk Show Host
Springer graduated from Northwestern University School of Law and became involved in politics working for the campaign of Robert Kennedy in 1968. He was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971 and served as the 56th Mayor of Cincinnati from 1977 to 1978. He resigned from the council in 1974 after admitting to hiring a prostitute, but was re-elected in 1975 after apologizing to his constituents.
He Won Several Emmy Awards for his Commentary as a News Anchor
Springer worked as a local news anchor and reporter in Cincinnati from 1982 to 1993. He won seven Regional Emmy Awards for his nightly commentaries, which were often humorous and provocative. He also hosted a popular radio show called Springer on the Radio.
He Had a Cameo Role in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Springer appeared as himself in the 1999 comedy film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, starring Mike Myers. In the film, he hosted a segment of his show featuring Dr. Evil and his son Scott Evil, who had a dysfunctional relationship. The segment ended with Dr. Evil killing another guest with his finger laser and Scott Evil attacking his father.
He Hosted One of the Most Popular and Controversial Talk Shows in History
Springer launched his syndicated talk show, The Jerry Springer Show, in 1991. The show featured guests revealing shocking secrets, confessions and confrontations, often involving cheating, violence, incest, and other taboo topics. The show also featured frequent fights among the guests, and chants of “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!” from the audience. The show was a ratings hit and a cultural phenomenon, but also drew criticism from people accusing it of promoting exploitation, vulgarity, and lack of social responsibility.
Jerry Springer’s legacy is cemented in Hollywood history in ways that may never be seen again. His career could definitely be considered a one of one. For people who grew up in the 90s, this one is going to hit home. It’s like so many 90s legends are passing away recently.