Jerry Springer, the controversial television host and former mayor of Cincinnati, has died. He was 79.
A family spokesperson confirmed to TMZ that Springer died Thursday at his Chicago home after a "brief illness." The outlet also cited sources who said he was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago.
Springer hosted the syndicated Jerry Springer show for nearly 30 years and almost 5,000 episodes. Airing from 1991 through 2018, the infamous talk show featuring colorful guests and their often absurd personal problems was known for its on-air fighting and wild drama, not to mention for its studio audience's enthusiastic chants of "Jerry!"
Prior to his television career, though, Springer had a career in politics. He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1970 and was elected to Cincinnati's city council in 1971. Though he resigned from the city council in 1974 after hiring a prostitute, he was re-elected the following year. "I spent time with a woman I shouldn't have," Springer said in a TV ad in 1982 while running for governor of Ohio. "And I paid her with a check. I wish I hadn't done that." Springer also served as mayor of Cincinnati in 1977.
After the Jerry Springer show ended in 2018, Springer hosted the court show Judge Jerry until it was canceled in 2022. He told The New York Post last year he was "taking a little bit of time to try out this retirement thing." Springer also hosted America's Got Talent, and he popped up as a performer on The Masked Singer in 2022.
A spokesperson for Springer's family told The Associated Press that his "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," adding, "He's irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on."