Anyone who has turned on their television midday is familiar with the brand of daytime talk shows. The hosts of these programs have spent years cultivating a reputation of being loud, dramatic, and over the top. These shows are depicted as circuses of destruction and nastiness, creating their own genre: tabloid talk shows. These shows are all over the place, both across U.S. networks and around the globe. While a few names may be powerhouses in sensational television, one personality leads the pack: Jerry Springer.
Jerry Springer has created a name for himself as the king of “gotcha!” television. He has pushed any limit you can think of, and then some. He took his academic background and turned it into something that would help him make money and get ratings. But of course, there is more to any celebrity than meets the eye. Here are some facts and background on Jerry Springer that might help you see him as more than just a television personality!
Born In a London Tube Station
Jerry Springer was born on February 13th, 1944 in a London Underground Tube station; a unique start to a remarkable life. The Highgate Tube station (aka subway) was being used at the time as a bomb shelter during World War II. At the time of his birth, his parents had been taking refuge at the station during German bombing runs. His parents were Polish Jews who had escaped persecution from the Germans.
Unfortunately, other close relatives of his perished as a result. Springer’s paternal grandmother and great-uncle died at the Theresienstadt camp, and his maternal grandmother at the Chelmno camp. His parents resettled in London for the time when Springer was born. When he was just five years old, his family emigrated to America and relocated to Queens, New York City. In 2012, he filmed a short segment with the BBC, discussing his early days in London.
He’s Got Multiple Professional Degrees
Much like many others from the area, Springer moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, to study at the prestigious Tulane University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the university in 1965. Maybe his TV show’s craziness was inspired by the wild energy of New Orleans and Bourbon Street! From there, he went on to get his law degree from Northwestern University in 1968.
Springer used his degree to transition into a politically-centered career, having met New York Senator Robert Kennedy at a dinner party. Springer accepted a position working on Robert Kennedy’s upcoming presidential campaign. Months after Springer started in this role, Kennedy was assassinated. While devastated by the emotional toll of the assassination, Springer was inspired to continue to serve and continue with Kennedy’s political vision.
Aspiring Politician Turned TV Star
Springer is typically known for making waves as a tabloid talk show host, though he had a lengthy and active political career before breaking into television. He was involved in the political community in Cincinnati, Ohio, and started at age 25 in a law firm. He was instrumental in helping Ohio lower the voting age from 21 down to 18. He would later use this experience to make a national impact. It helped lead to the ratification of the 26th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – bringing the voting age back to 18 years of age across the country.
He would later use his experiences to leverage his own name in politics. He was elected to Cincinnati City Council, but later was forced to resign over a prostitution scandal. While we can’t say we’re surprised based on his later career years, he was lucky to regain his seat in the following election. He would soon be elected Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, and served for two terms. He also ran for Congress in Ohio but fell short of the incumbent, Donald Clancy. In 1982, he made a failed bid for Governor of Ohio, which ultimately led to him moving into broadcast television.
New Beginnings in Television
Springer used his political commentary experience and turned it into a career in TV entertainment. He started in the early 1980s as a reporter at a local Cincinnati TV station, later getting promoted to lead anchor and winning seven Emmy Awards for his commentary and news coverage. He broke into the world of talk shows in 1991, with the debut of his very own program, The Jerry Springer Show.
The show initially did not do so well. The program struggled for the first few seasons, as it was initially centered around political topics. As a result, his show underwent a complete overhaul and was totally rebranded. As a result, this show went on to be known for controversial and taboo topics, such as incest and infidelity. The show would soon be known for fights that broke out on air.
Creative Television, For Better and Worse
The rebranding of Springer’s program took a sharp turn toward dramatic TV. Guests broke into physical fights, used excessive profanity, and were dressed in minimal amounts of clothing. Not long after, The Jerry Springer Show would be deemed “trash TV” by political and community leaders. Accusations were made that the show was staged and that the drama was fake.
Regardless of the drama associated with the show, viewers ate the content up like a giant, thrilling sandwich. The show went on to inspire an opera, which debuted in London in 2003, though Springer did not actually star or play a role in it. The opera won a Laurence Olivier Award for best new musical and played across the United States.
The Show That Sticks Around Forever
A show with a reputation like The Jerry Springer Show may not be a priority for other networks, but some didn’t want to let this program go to waste. When NBC Universal announced that The Jerry Springer Show was canceled, The C.W. decided to scoop up the program and resurrect the show.
With the show moving over to The C.W., surprising, never-before-seen episodes were expected to be released. However, it’s hard to say what episodes may be “extra.” Every episode was so over the top, who would ever know? We’re still waiting for those episodes, it seems…
Springer’s Spinoff Success
Springer had a brief stint with a spinoff show, Judge Jerry. Just what the world needed in 2019 – another judge show! The show recently covered intrapersonal disputes in entertaining topics, like a wig dispute between two drag queens. The show even tweeted at rapper Cardi B and political commentator Candace Owens after the two broke out into a feud on the social media site, reacting to Cardi B’s recent Grammy’s performance of her hit single, “WAP.”
Without Springer’s guidance, others in the same daytime talk show space might not have gotten to where they are today. After hiring a young cop to work security on a particularly political and dangerous episode, the young officer had a great experience and actually quit to work full time as security at the show. This young man was Steve Wilkos, who became so popular on the show that he got his own segment – and later, his own show The Steve Wilkos Show.
Always a Ringmaster
Springer’s show was a circus, and he was basically a ringmaster. In 1998, he starred in a film based on a show like his, titled Ringmaster. He would later be credited with other film titles and made numerous appearances in sitcoms. He also starred as Billy Flynn in a London production of the musical Chicago.
His appearances were both on and offscreen. In 2007 and 2008, Springer hosted America’s Got Talent as well as the Miss Universe Pageant in 2008. He wrote his memoir, entitled Ringmaster, in 1998. He also appeared as a contestant in Dancing With The Stars, recorded his own country music CD, and hosted variety shows in England and South Africa.
Bang Your Gavel
In his new show, Judge Jerry, this TV star is certainly keeping busy. Not only can he make real judgements, but his judgements cannot be appealed with the Court of Common Pleas. The people filing apparently did not even know they would be on television. This sounds like a mistrial!
Fortunately, a team of staffers would check the filed cases across their assigned states. They would contact the people appropriate to see if they’re okay with hashing their case out on national television. If they say they’re into it, they would get flown to Connecticut. Looks like the justice system has more issues to work out…
Trick or Treat
Watching his show, you might think that it’s just crazy people who want the attention that would come with it. Turns out, that isn’t always the case. The Jerry Springer Show offers a pretty sweet deal to potential guests to get them to share the most embarrassing stories they have, publicly.
If you called in an interesting story, you’d get a free flight and hotel for the same night, and you’d be there to film the next morning. This gave little to no time for anyone to think about making their story public and the repercussions associated. This definitely explains a lot about the vibe of the show!
Just For the Ratings
The show has had tons of critics over the years. Who would’ve known that Jerry Springer himself was one of them? As it turns out, Springer claims he never actually watches the show. He has publicly stated that he understands how ridiculous and over the top the program is. Wow!
No matter what he says, some part of him deep down probably enjoys it. For a show that has been running for 28 seasons and has over 4000 episodes to date, he probably would not have continued for so long if he really didn’t like it! Hey, Jerry – if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life!
Chicago to Connecticut
After almost two decades filming Springer’s show in Chicago, The Jerry Springer Show packed their bags and prepped their crew to move to the east coast. The show went on to be hosted in Stamford, Connecticut, which did not have locals who were happy to support the program.
To say that residents of Stamford were surprised would be an understatement. Locals were so upset that they staged large protests against the show. This move was made as an effort for the network to save money on production. The show was soon followed by The Steve Wilkos Show, Maury Povich, and NBC Sports in making the move to Connecticut.
Fighting For Ratings
Arguments and fights that broke out on Springer’s show were never anything short of dramatic. Was this coincidence, or was it planned out? You guessed it, Springer and his crew had actively decided to make the show as dramatic as possible, every single time. This gives “tough crowd” a whole new meaning.
From the moment the show was created, it was a conscious decision to invoke some kind of explosive battle in every episode. You can even see Steve Wilkos, current TV personality (and former security guard), running to break up a fight in old photos of episode filming. They didn’t want to be “just another talk show.”
Top of The List
Despite claims that the show is “just a job” for Springer, he still is associated with the drama that comes with it. Political commentator Bernard Goldberg ranked Jerry Springer as number 32 on his list of the “Top 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.” This came as a result of Springer hosting the show.
For a show that was synonymous with food-fights and baby-mama drama, it may come as surprising that he was only 32nd on the list. For a show that puts crazy people and their dramatic situations on a pedestal, maybe it belongs a little higher up on the list. Come on, Jerry!
Tone It Down, Jerry!
Believe it or not, the show actually used to have even more violence than it does now. In the earlier days of the show, way more physical violence was involved. The show believed they had a healthy dose of verbal and emotional confrontation, and they were later pressured to tone the violence down by religious groups.
Despite toning down the violence, that doesn’t mean it stopped all together. The show still contains a ton of violence, and fights on the show are still known to get a bit out of hand. The drama recorded on the show has led to murders and suicides. Hopefully, the families of these individuals received support for their losses at the hands of Springer-related drama.
Distinguished, In Bad Ways
True to form, TIME Magazine gave The Jerry Springer Show a unique title that many others have luckily not been awarded. The program was named the “Worst Television Show of All Time” by TV Guide as well in 2002. TV Guide staffers referred to Springer’s show as even more trashy than the likes of Hee Haw Honeys and Celebrity Boxing.
This show created a new normal for “trash” TV. “Awful television shows are a storied part of our society,” TV Guide editor-in-chief Steven Reddicliffe stated. “Some of them actually are very successful and are great guilty pleasures. And no one has turned guilty-pleasure TV into more of an art form than Jerry Springer.”
Now Hiring: New Co-Hosts
Springer’s program ruffled more than a few feathers over the years. Many members of the public openly contested his show’s existence, and boycotts/protests were staged throughout the years. At one point, when Springer took a side job at WMAQ in the news department, some staffers had strong feelings on the matter.
Two of his coworkers, Carol Marin and Ron Magers, actually decided to quit their long-standing anchor positions purely because their station decided to hire Springer. Understandably, news anchors who may worry about their reputation wouldn’t want to be associated with such a character, even in a different setting. They were not the first, and certainly not the last!
Oprah or Jerry: Take Your Pick
Looking back at the dazzling shows of the 1990s and early 2000s, there was definitely competition for who was seen as the best. Believe it or not, The Oprah Winfrey Show fell short to The Jerry Springer show as the most popular show for a time in the 1990s. Wild, right?
The show reached its ratings peak in 1997 and 1998, when they became the first talk show in years to surpass Oprah’s show. The two shows were polar opposites in content, but had one commonality: they were both based in Chicago! When Springer passed Oprah, it was the first time in more than a decade that any talk show beat out her show.
Parents in Protest
In the early 2000s, his home country of England actually banned The Jerry Springer Show from being aired during the day or during any school holiday. As it turned out, parents in the UK had a lot to say about the content being shown and naturally did not want their children to be exposed to it.
The ban came as an excessive amount of parents across the nation complained that they did not want their children to be exposed to the show. Children often repeat behaviors they see across media outlets, so it’s probably a good call to make sure they don’t go on to do the same things they see on his show!
Host for the Ages
Jerry Springer’s work had caused uproar among his colleagues across the entertainment industry. The decision to have Springer host the 2013 Midwest Emmy Awards was certainly unpopular and met with mixed feelings. Selecting him was a tight race and not received well by others in the Academy. Someone held a grudge…
The vote by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to have Springer host won by a very tight margin. Board members of the Academy actually resigned from their post over the decision. Both locally and nationally, Springer’s presence was associated with drama that some people just didn’t want to deal with.
Guests That Make Your Head Spin
Springer’s show was known for ridiculous and over the top stories on the show. In one instance, a guest on the show gave her boyfriend an ultimatum: do you choose me, or do you choose your best friend? While this seems pretty standard for this show, there was a twist… his best friend was a chicken.
This man was dead serious about his committed friendship with an actual live chicken. These colorful guests make us think Springer travels to the ends of the earth to find them. A word of advice to the featured girlfriend: unless he’s planning to make the chicken for your next dinner, it’s time for a new boyfriend.
Despite moving from NBC to The C.W., The Jerry Springer Show was quietly canceled in 2018. Staff members made a conscious decision to keep the decision quiet, so as to not make a big public issue about it. This is maybe the quietest thing about the show to happen, maybe ever.
However, you can barely tell his original program is canceled. This guy is never really going away, we think, and it shows. He has still remained relevant in the TV world through his current show, Judge Jerry.
No Celebrity Rule
While consistently dramatic, the show had a constant stream of average Joes and Janes. Around the third year the show was running, they adopted a “no celebrity” policy which Springer believes is what kept his show running at length. You’d think he might want the drama that often follows celebrities, but his reasoning may shock you.
As it turns out, it was the representation of average people that Springer believes is the reason why his show remained successful throughout the years. He wanted to serve drama on a silver platter to people who had never experienced that type of luxury before. It made them relatable to a larger audience.
Thousands and Thousands of Episodes
In The Jerry Springer Show’s tenure, they made a TON of episodes. The show was on air for 27 years, so the actual number shouldn’t be so shocking, as it was run multiple times a day. Can you guess the massive number of episodes filmed? Prepare for your jaw to drop…
The show aired nearly 5000 freaking episodes! Say what you will about the programming and content of the show, but that is a lot of work to sift through. Kudos to his team for constantly filming and editing that many episodes. It is super exhausting to even think about!
Springer in Song
Did you know that a musical was inspired by his show? This musical was not just inspired by it, it actually was the show created in the form of a musical. Naturally, the show followed suit and was filled with profanities and received tons of complaints. That did not seem to get in their way, though…
The show uttered more than 8,000 curse words, harsh depictions of Jesus, Satan, and related folks, and ultimately offended a variety of groups. This was more than enough to inspire protests against the BBC, who had agreed to air a televised version of the place. The protests would draw 45,000 angry protesters. The show still managed to have multiple successful tours.
Fighting with Politicians
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the show made a lot of people angry. Of course, it has been repeated throughout this article, but sometimes it just needs to be reiterated. Politicians like a Senator from Connecticut, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, decided to wage war on Springer and all other sleazy TV at the time.
You would think that coming from a background in politics that Jerry Springer would not want to burn those bridges and keep up appearances. It seems that he does not care either way, so when the show’s producer, USA Networks (one of the many studio producers over the years) promised Senator Lieberman that the drama and unruly behavior would scale back, Springer disagreed.
Naturally, a show known for absolute shock value would be known for inspiring others to follow in its path. Steve Wilkos began his career in television as security for a special episode. The show inspired spinoffs and similar content in Russia, India, Cyprus, Brazil, France, Greece, and Thailand.
Of course the UK already had a version of the same show that was being filmed in the same studio his American show was filmed in. The show is known to have inspired Maury, The Jeremy Kyle Show, The Trisha Goddard Show, and Face to Face, a talk show from the Philippines.
Feeding Guests More Than Just Food
As the guests had their expenses paid by the show, they were often treated to all of the junk their hearts desired. Staffers would take guests from both sides of the story out to different novelty chain restaurants and area tourist attractions like ESPN Zone, and made sure the guests didn’t see each other.
They would also practically feed the guests cigarettes whenever they possibly could. Nearly all of the guests smoked, though they wouldn’t give the guests alcohol. They didn’t want guests to go on a bender and not showing up to the taping that brought them there in the first place. At least they didn’t encourage every naughty behavior!
Working Through the Fetish Beat
The show was entirely focused on the “wow!” factor created through their content. The show staff would reach out to people like BDSM professionals who had advertisements on the back of alt-weekly papers, another form of tabloid like the show. They would be offered a free trip to Chicago and free advertising.
Production staff would call up friends who pretended to have weird fetishes. They’d also have to call every single person who left a voicemail on the Jerry Springer hotline looking for specifics, often looking to start more drama. However, some callers also had their own unique pitches, though they’d direct these people to make their pitch even more dramatic. Imagine that!
Family Laundry Day
The family drama beat was a frequent star of his show. Nothing quite like a family coming on to discuss personal matters that could be discussed at the dinner table, but on national TV in front of a studio audience instead. Seems like a great place to air your family’s dirty laundry.
If a member of one of the many dysfunctional families decided to actually keep their personal matters private, someone from the show’s staff would have to get the axe. Even if someone is being reasonable – a father who doesn’t want to allow his underage daughter ruin her future by appearing on the show, maybe – they still would have to pay with their job. That sucks, doesn’t it?
Scandal Follows Springer
Are you even a little bit surprised to find out that this guy has been relentlessly followed by scandal throughout his career? Nope, neither are we. He had to resign in disgrace from his post on the Cincinnati City Council as a result of a sex scandal with an interesting, wild twist.
As it turns out, Springer paid for a sex worker with a personal check. Yes, you read that right. A raid conducted on a Kentucky “health club” revealed the transaction. That is such a rookie move, Jerry – if you’re gonna have a paper trail, why have a paper trail with your name attached? Not your best move, but also… not your quite your worst either.
It’s so hard to narrow down the most dramatic moments in the show’s history. But one would have to be when two hairy “best buds” named Judah and Johnny showed up to “have a conversation” on national TV, only for Judah to break into song and propose to his buddy. Luckily for him, Johnny accepted. Congrats you two!
However, not everything really works out this way. A man appeared on the show to meet a woman he’s been speaking to online, but ultimately was catfished, to his surprise, by another man! No surprise that the people coming onto the show speak in English that is straight-up incoherent. This show thrives on drama.
Bad Boy Brawls
Who knows the level of reality in these dramatic situations? In one crazy episode, a girl came in talking about her boyfriend and how she cares about him, but she made a mistake. She was lonely, her calls were getting ignored, and she went to a party and ended up sleeping with her boyfriend’s best friend.
She came on the show to confront the issue and confess to her man. He responded in an unexpected way: “I know!” He claimed that he and his best friend had planned it out, placing a bet that if the friend were successful, he would be owed $50 and a pack of cigarettes. The girl was embarrassed and naturally threw a fit on stage, especially when both guys were on stage with her!
Call Him Dad
While he was still married, Jerry Springer and Micki Velton had a daughter, Katie Springer. Though she was born disabled, Springer was dedicated to his role as a father and made sure she would be able to live an independent life. His daughter was born with a defect, without a nasal passage. This was treated immediately after birth.
She is legally blind and deaf in one ear, though that has not stopped her from having the life she wanted to have. Her parents were loving and continued to provide her with any opportunity possible. Katie is now married with a son herself. She has made the future she always wanted for herself.
A Short-Lived Marriage
Jerry Springer met Micki Velton in the 1970s. The pair were introduced when she was working for Proctor and Gamble, a consumer goods corporation based in Cincinnati. The company has made its name with tons of different consumer brands under their name, like Gain laundry detergent, Always feminine products, and Luvs diapers.
The couple was married on June 16th, 1973, though they unfortunately did not last and were officially divorced in 1994. Since then, Springer has not been romantically linked to anyone else. Even though the show was known for being over the top and into the personal lives of guests, Springer and Velton were very private people and details of their marriage remain as such.
Jerry and The WWE Go Hand in Hand
Did you know that Jerry Springer has made multiple performances in the world of professional wrestling? Granted, it’s more entertainment than actual wrestling, but it seems that WWE is basically the same kind of content as Springer’s show. He went on to host WWE Raw in 2010 and again in 2014.
According to an article published by Forbes, leaders of the WWE may be planning to bring Springer back, and extend the drama created. The WWE already has tons of drama, but who better to stir the pot than the king of that – Springer himself! He brought his own twist on commentary, shining light on his insults to anyone on yet again another national stage.
Worthless or Worth Tons?
Years of producing a show of his fame was sure to earn a pretty penny. As of 2021, Springer had a net worth of $75 million. The show alone paid him $8 million a year, and while it may not have started that way, twenty-plus seasons of a show will definitely help anyone put some money in the bank!
While not much public information is out and available about his current assets, we know he is living at the top of the daytime talk show host wealth scaled. Either that, or he needs to get a better piggy bank! Have fun with your financial successes, Jerry! We’re happy for you.
I Now Pronounce You “Man and Horse”
This show is nothing short of bizarre on so many different levels. This show relied on the best and worst (mostly worst) of what society has to offer. One of the most remarkable experiences he had was interviewing a man who was in love with his horse and wanted to marry it.
He had this individual come on the show to profess his love for the horse. The horse made an appearance later in the episode and shared a kiss with his handler (or should we say lover?) Springer later told Meredith Viera that his producers didn’t even inform him that Pixel was a horse!
Adios, Private Parts
Another wild episode featured a man who chose to self-mutilate. You’re reading that right. Jerry Springer invited a guest who cut off privates with garden tools. This guest somehow connected his choice to chop it off with being stalked by a man who claimed they were lovers. That’s… wow.
This man cut off his genitals because he was getting unwanted attention from another man. The audience cringed when Springer held up a pair of gardening scissors and explained what the guest had done to himself. Even from a distance, we are squeamish just hearing about it! Talk about a major pain.
Annabel, The “Sex Marathon Woman”
What you choose to do with your own body is a personal choice. Springer featured a guest who decided to take this to the extreme and had slept with a considerable number of men. She was a University of Southern California student and an adult film star. She must have worked a lot!
This young woman was on her way to setting a world record for the most sexual partners in a 24 hour period. She allegedly had relations with 70 men within 10 hours – some of them even multiple times. This story was later made into a documentary called Annabel. Talk about stamina!
Life With The Mole People
Say what you will about the quality of his show content, but he definitely broke some barriers and told stories that had never been breached before. He was invited by a “mole person” named Bernard to come explore the lives of people often referred to as urban legend. That’s truly unique.
He also spent time out in the streets with people who were spending their lives unhoused. It must have been an eye-opening experience to see what they did. His interview with Bernard was calmer than you’d expect based on his typical show persona. The interview even had a subway pass through in the background, stopping the conversation for a moment.
Every Show is a Mystery
The show’s host apparently did not know what the topic of the show was that day until he showed up to film. Throughout the years, he has insisted on the authenticity of the drama seen on screen. Even if he was being truthful, there’s a chance his staff didn’t do the best job vetting their guests.
Unfortunately, Springer and his show don’t want to take responsibility for the fallout of crimes that occurred as a result of the drama created on screen. Despite putting fragile individuals in front of a live audience, they don’t see it as their responsibility. People who might have been better off having confrontations in private had their own consequences, and the show didn’t see their own part in it.
Every guest was supposedly given a list of more than 20 possibilities, and they had to confirm their comfort with all of them before the show would go on. Hey – we all think we will react differently in any case than we actually do. Maybe Springer’s staff should have thought about that!
If someone was not okay with one of the 20 possibilities, they wouldn’t be on the show. This begs the question – if the drama isn’t staged, then what exactly is on these lists? Our guess is everything was totally over the top and that every possibility was as dramatic as humanly possible!
Future in Entertainment
More than 30 years and nearly 5000 episodes later, you might think that Jerry is ready to throw in the towel and sail into the golden years of his life in retirement. Much to our surprise, he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere! Today, he continues to star in his new show, Judge Jerry.
So what does the future have in store for Jerry Springer’s career and personal life? It seems that he’s back to using his law degree, brushing up on laws across the 50 states to have some legitimacy to his entertaining new show. He doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon!