Controversial TV host Jerry Springer dies aged 79 after illness

Jerry Springer has died of cancer, leaving behind a complicated legacy.

The broadcaster, best-known for The Jerry Springer Show, passed away Thursday (27 April) at his home in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 79.

His family confirmed he was diagnosed with cancer months ago, and took a turn for the worse earlier this week.

“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,” said Jene Galvin, a lifelong friend and spokesman for the family.

“He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humour will live on.”

The Jerry Springer Show was accused of transphobia

Despite starting life in 1991 as a mild-mannered talk show, The Jerry Springer Show evolved into a symbol of ‘trash TV’. It was notorious for its salacious show-downs, for sexualising its guests and for its physical fights.

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Though these were the things that made the show popular, they also earned Springer intense scrutiny as the years went on.

The show was plagued by constant accusations of homophobia and transphobia throughout its lifespan until its cancellation 2018. Springer featured regular segments where trans women were portrayed as deceptive, exploited for cheap laughs and dehumanised.

In 2014, Springer came under fire for usage of the slur “t****y”. Segments on the show routinely used the slur in titles such as “T****y Take Downs”, “Online T****y Trap” and “T****y Bomb!”.

He apologised, telling TMZ: “I honestly had no idea that you’re not supposed to use that term so now we’ll find another term to use. But, yeah, I didn’t know it was offensive to them and I’m not interested in offending people so obviously I’ll just change the term. There’s no argument there.”

While the slur was dropped, the segments continued.

Jerry Springer remembered as ‘king of mess’

Twitter has erupted with condolences for the chat show host, with many noting how problematic his show was.

Others ruminating on Springer’s passing have had far less positive thoughts, with one saying she was “not exactly sad to see him pass,” crediting Springer as the reason she stayed in the closet, due to his sensationalisation of trans people “into a mockery for profit.”

Prior to his broadcasting career, which included roles as a political reporter and commentator, Jerry Springer was the mayor of Cincinnati and a political campaign adviser to Robert F Kennedy.

Springer’s death comes within the same week as the passing of Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars judge Len Goodman, and after the death of Dame Edna Everage star Barry Humphries, who is also facing posthumous scrutiny for his anti-trans remarks.