Remembering Legendary Talk Show Host Jerry Springer

The longtime Sarasota resident died Thursday after a brief illness.

By Cooper Levey-Baker April 27, 2023

Jerry Springer

Image: Barbara Banks

Jerry Springer was born in 1944 in a London subway station that was being used as a bomb shelter for people like his parents, Polish refugees who had fled the Nazis. He died Thursday at his home near Chicago at the age of 79. In the intervening years, he served as the mayor of Cincinnati, campaigned in congressional and gubernatorial races and spent decades hosting one of the country's most popular and influential daytime talk shows.

He was also a longtime resident of Sarasota, which he called an "oasis," a place where he could escape fame and attention. But while he generally kept a low profile in Sarasota, he did occasionally make public appearances, giving talks about politics and even joining protests when inspired to do so. In his later years, he would commute each week from Sarasota to Connecticut, where his show was then filmed.

His show, titled simply Jerry Springer, ran from 1991 to 2018, and became famous for its unhinged guests, whose wild behavior would lead to emotional meltdowns and onstage fistfights. He closed each episode with a segment titled "Final Thought," in which he delivered a monologue reflecting on what transpired during the show and concluded by telling his viewers, "Take care of yourself, and each other."

In an interview with Sarasota Magazine from 2017, Springer called his long-running program "stupid" and a "circus," but also charged critics of the show with being elitists who looked down on his guests because they weren't "rich, famous and beautiful" like celebrities who act out. He once called his guests “regular folks of no fame, little if any wealth and very little influence, folks just taking a moment, which they rarely, if ever, get, to let the world know what they are thinking or feeling or doing. Admittedly, it’s often crazy or outside the norm of accepted behavior."

“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 spokesperson for Springer's family, said in a statement. “He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on.”

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