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Jerry Springer

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Also Known As: Gerald Norman Springer Died:
Born: February 13, 1944 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: talk show host, country singer, songwriter, politician, lawyer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

, attempted to reign in the show¿s violence, but ratings lagged and new management allowed Springer to revert back to old ways. Other daytime syndicated shows cropped up, with many aping the "Springer" format and existing shows such as those hosted by Ricki Lake and Jenny Jones reformatted their own shows to be more sensationalist and raunchy.Springer became a cultural touchstone, popping up as himself in "Final Thought" mode on "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988-1997),"The Steve Harvey Show" (The WB, 1996-2002), "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002), "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ) and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (ABC, 1996-2003), as well as in the Rodney Dangerfield feature "Meet Wally Sparks" (1997) and the apropos B-film "Killer Sex Queens from Cyberspace" (1998). He extended his own franchise, doing versions of his show for the U.K. media, releasing a country music album and, in 1998, producing and starring in "Ringmaster." The feature film offered a barely fictionalized behind-the-scenes rendering of his show, both from his perspective and those of his guests desperately seeking their proverbial 15 minutes. Springer played it much like he has in real-life, dazed and somewhat baffled by the frenzy of his own...

, attempted to reign in the show¿s violence, but ratings lagged and new management allowed Springer to revert back to old ways. Other daytime syndicated shows cropped up, with many aping the "Springer" format and existing shows such as those hosted by Ricki Lake and Jenny Jones reformatted their own shows to be more sensationalist and raunchy.

Springer became a cultural touchstone, popping up as himself in "Final Thought" mode on "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988-1997),"The Steve Harvey Show" (The WB, 1996-2002), "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002), "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ) and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (ABC, 1996-2003), as well as in the Rodney Dangerfield feature "Meet Wally Sparks" (1997) and the apropos B-film "Killer Sex Queens from Cyberspace" (1998). He extended his own franchise, doing versions of his show for the U.K. media, releasing a country music album and, in 1998, producing and starring in "Ringmaster." The feature film offered a barely fictionalized behind-the-scenes rendering of his show, both from his perspective and those of his guests desperately seeking their proverbial 15 minutes. Springer played it much like he has in real-life, dazed and somewhat baffled by the frenzy of his own creation, and the film won some mildly positive reviews. He also published an autobiographical book of the same name. In 2000, Studios USA ¿ later to be folded into the NBC Universal media conglomerate ¿ gave Springer a $30 million contract extension, but the year would also come with some stark headlines. In July of that year, one of Springer¿s recent guests was found murdered in a Florida home she had been trying to legally wrest from her ex-husband and his new wife, all three of whom had taped a segment for "Springer" just months before. The husband was later convicted of the murder, and Springer faced still more scrutiny over his penchant for inciting the worst in people. In 2002, the sons of the murdered woman filed a lawsuit against Springer, the show, and Studios USA, claiming that they had created an environment that had spurred the violence, but they dropped the suit the following year. Also in 2002, TV Guide named "Springer" atop its list of "The Worst TV Shows Ever." Curiously, that year, comedian and playwright Stewart Lee and composer Richard Thomas premiered their stage production "Jerry Springer: The Opera" ¿ an intensively profanity-laden musical amalgam of Springer¿s shows with a sharp critique of its pious critics ¿ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, with Springer in attendance.

The Springer opera eventually went up in London¿s Royal National Theatre and in the West End for 609 performances from 2003 through 2005. A winner of four Olivier Awards, it eventually toured the U.K. and was broadcast on BBC2, to ardent protests of Christian groups. It was also staged in ensuing years in regional U.S. theaters, as Springer continued his regular schedule of cross-media appearances; most notably playing the President of the U.S. in the Dolph Lundgren B-actioner "The Defender" (2004). In 2005, he returned to politics of a kind with "Springer on the Radio," a syndicated radio show that showcased his thoughtful, lefty side and was carried nationwide for two years via the nascent but ill-fated progressive talk network, Air America. By the end of the show¿s two-year run, he had begun mulling a run for U.S. senator in Ohio, but decided against it and re-upped his contract on "The Jerry Springer Show" in January 2006. That year, he became a fan favorite on the ABC reality competition show, "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), with the ever self-deprecating Springer ¿ by far the oldest contestant up until then ¿ intent upon learning to dance so he could do so with his daughter at her upcoming wedding. The next year, NBC Universal flipped him to the other side of the reality-competition fence, giving him hosting duties for two seasons on NBC¿s televised talent show, "America¿s Got Talent." In 2008, the BBC featured him in a heartfelt episode of its geneology-based documentary series, "Who Do You Think You Are" (BBC1, 2004- ) in which he tracked down the details of his grandmothers¿ last days and demise during the Holocaust. Also in the U.K., Springer himself made it to the West End in 2009, having a rare turn at singing and acting in the Cambridge Theatre¿s production of the musical "Chicago" in the Billy Flynn role famously played by Richard Gere in the movie adaptation. In 2010, Springer began hosting "Baggage," an original game-show for the Game Show Network in which contestants reveal their foibles and psychological issues while still attempting to win over a prospective date.a personal check as payment for services rendered. He and Velton remained married but would separate under terms he kept close to the vest. But Springer zigged where most politicians would zag, fessing up to his philandering candidly and emotionally in a televised press conference before resigning. The honesty played so well with Cincinnati residents that they sent him back to the council in 1975 and went further to elect him mayor in 1977. Springer served two terms, bolstering his public outreach with a regular commentary slot on local rock station WEBN called "The Springer Memorandum," which laid the ground for a remarkable career turn. In 1982, he decided to take his political career to the next level and ran for governor of Ohio, doing well in early polling, but his opponents dredged up the prostitution scandal, and, though Springer addressed the issue in a remarkably forthright campaign ad, his fortunes sank. In the wake, Cincinnati¿s local TV stations came calling, hoping to put the still-popular politician on the air, and Springer decided to hire on with the NBC affiliate WLWT. Springer¿s stint as anchorman and managing editor for the station¿s nightly news broadcast made it the highest rated in the market, highlighted each night by his personal commentaries, and earning him seven local Emmy awards. In 1990, WLWT attempted to extend its Springer franchise with an afternoon public affairs show. In 1991, Multimedia Entertainment bought the show for broadcast in its four television markets, and its first season featured tame, issues-oriented fare, with politicians as guests and heady topics such as homelessness, gun-control and violence in entertainment.

NBC purchased the show for its owned-and-operated stations the next year and Springer moved production to the network¿s NBC Tower in Chicago. But by 1994, the staid format had failed to find an audience, and Springer and producer Richard Dominick, fearing Multimedia would cancel the show, began spicing things up. Noticing rating spikes on shows with more lowbrow topics, they began peppering their schedule with guests sure to spur confrontations with themselves and studio audiences, overt racists, practitioners of various forms of incest and bestiality and, frequently, strippers. As the "trash" factor drew bigger audiences, Springer and Dominick kept upping the ante of behavioral degeneracy and on-camera conflict, to the point that the program morphed into an on-air freak show by 1996, with fights between guests and even audience members becoming part of the attraction. Springer attempted mildly to moderate the proceedings and always sum up each episode with his takeaway "Final Thought." Culling the ranks of the deranged and clueless ¿ a man who cut off his penis to discourage a homosexual stalker; man whose girlfriend revealed herself on the show to be transsexual ¿ "Springer" by 1997-98 had become a cult phenomenon, eclipsing the ratings of daytime talk queen Oprah Winfrey, and selling briskly in overseas markets. The show¿s unabashed exploitation, as well as its fanning of violence and Springer¿s on-set security¿s seeming willingness to let it go, drew a fusillades of condemnation ¿ not just from TV critics, but also television watchdog groups, politicians and clergy. The show¿s new parent, Studios USA

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Swing State (2008)
3.
 Citizen Verdict (2005) Marty Rockman
4.
 Domino (2005)
5.
 Defender, The (2004)
6.
 Sugar & Spice (2001) Himself
7.
 Sex: the Annabel Chong Story (1999) Himself
9.
 24 Hour Woman, The (1998) Himself
10.
 Kissing a Fool (1998) Himself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1939:
Parents fled to London from Nazi Germany
1949:
Family emigrated to the United States when Springer was five years old
1968:
Became a political campaign aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy
1969:
Joined a Cincinnati law firm and became active in local referendum to lower Ohio's voting age to 19
:
Announced his bid for Ohio congressional seat; three days later, Army reservist Springer was called to active duty and sent to Fort Knox, KY
:
Upon his discharge four months later, resumed his bid, but lost by a modest margin
1971:
Won a seat on the Cincinnati city council
1974:
Forced to resign after admitting to hiring a prostitute; came clean to stunned news reporters at a press conference
1977:
Received more votes than any other councilman (largest plurality in city's history), becoming mayor of Cincinnati
1981:
Stepped down as mayor of Cincinnati
1982:
Lost Ohio Democratic gubernatorial primary
1982:
Was political reporter and commentator for Cincinnati's WLWT-TV (Channel 5)
1984:
Became news anchor and managing editor at WLWT-TV
1991:
Hosted syndicated talk show, "The Jerry Springer Show"; launched show in Cincinnati, moving it to Chicago a year later
1994:
Revamped the format of "The Jerry Springer Show" in order to garner higher ratings
1995:
Released country album, <i>Dr. Talk</i>; wrote title cut during a plane ride
1998:
Portrayed his own talk show host character in the film, "Ringmaster"
1998:
Released his autobiography, <i>Ringmaster</i>
1999:
Had a cameo appearance in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" as himself
2005:
Starred with Armand Assante in the film, "Citizen Verdict"
2006:
Joined the third season of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars"
2009:
Will make his West End stage debut in London¿s "Chicago" as Billy Flynn
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Education

Forest Hills High School: Forest Hills , New York - 1961
Tulane University: New Orleans , Louisiana - 1965
Northwestern University: Chicago , Illinois - 1968

Notes

In 2001, the Battersea Arts Centre in London presented "Jerry Springer: The Opera".

"I loved being mayor, but as soon as politics becomes a career, you can't really say what you believe because you're afraid you won't get re-elected. With a talk show, I have much greater reach and influence than I ever had as mayor.

"What politician gets an hour of national television, five hours a week, on the most powerful medium in the world? How many more lives has Donahue touched than [US Senator] Daniel Patrick Moynihan? There's no contest." --Jerry Springer in USA Today, January 25, 1994.

Springer received seven local Emmy Awards for his nightly commentaries while at Cincinnati's WLWT-TV. Readers of Cincinnati Magazine voted him TV's "Best Anchor" five years in succession. Among his professional achievements, he is extremely proud of his involvement with "Cincinnat Reaches Out", contributing on-site reporting from Ethiopia and Sudan documenting the effort to provide assistance to famine-stricken Africans.

Springer has served as co-host of Jerry Lewis' annual "Stars Across America" Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telethon and as Vice President of the national Muscular Dystrophy Association. He has been on the Advisory Board of the Audrey Hepburn Hollywood for Children Fund (AHHCF) and established a scholarship fund at the Kellman School in Chicago that serves inner city youth.

"The shows are wild shows. They're always on the cutting edge. But when moral questions are involved, we've got to come out on the right side. I've done 900 shows, and our audience of [mostly] kids never cheers the rapist or one who cheats. We get 3000 to 4000 phone calls a day at an 800 number--both suggestions for shows and people who want to be on. Our producers are told, 'Pick out the ones that are the most outrageous but also truthful.' It has to be truthful and interesting and, for our show, it must be outrageous. If it's normal living, that's not what our show is all about." --Jerry Springer in Parade Magazine, January 14, 1996.

Talk show host Jerry Springer was sued Wednesday by the son of a former guest, killed by her ex-husband hours after the airing of an episode the couple had appeared on involving love triangles.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Micki Velton. Administrative aide. Worked for Proctor & Gamble; born c 1946; met Springer on a blind date in 1969; married in 1973; no longer together.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Richard Springer. Stuffed animals manufacturer. Jewish; deceased.
mother:
Margot Springer. Bank clerk. Deceased.
sister:
Evelyn Springer. Language teacher. Born c. 1940.
daughter:
Katie Springer. Born in 1976, legally blind and deaf in one ear; also born without nasal passages.
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Bibliography close complete biography

"Ringmaster!" St. Martin's Press

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