Springer, Jerry 1944-
Springer, Jerry 1944-
PERSONAL: Full name, Gerald Springer; born February 13, 1944, in London, England; immigrated to the United States, 1949; son of Richard (a stuffed animal maker) and Margot (a bank clerk) Springer; married Micki Velten (an administrative aide), 1973 (divorced, 1994); children: Katie. Education: Tulane University, B.A.; Northwestern University, J.D., 1968.
CAREER: Worked as campaign aide to presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, 1968; City of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, council member at large, 1971-76, mayor, 1977-81; WLWT-TV, Cincinnati, political reporter, 1982-84, anchor and managing editor, 1984-93;The Jerry Springer Show (syndicated television series), host and executive producer, 1991—. Cincinnati Reaches Out, worked as on-site reporter; appearances in other television series include guest presenter, This Morning (also known as This Morning with Richard and Judy), 1999; host of Jerry Springer UK, 1999, Late Night with Jerry Springer, 2000, and Now or Never: Face Your Fear, Fox, 2000; appeared in Greed, 10 Network (Australia), 2001; and as guest host, The Wright Stuff. Appeared as the class photographer in the television movie Since You’ve Been Gone (also known as Dog Water, Stepping in Dog Water, and Stepping in the Dog Water), American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 1998. Appeared in many television specials, including Donahue: The 25th Anniversary, syndicated, 1992;The 1998 Billboard Music Awards, Fox, 1998;The Daily Show Year-End Spectacular ’98, Comedy Central, 1998;Jerry Springer: In the Center Ring, Arts and Entertainment, 1998;Sex with Cindy Crawford, 1998;Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 1998, ABC, 1998;My Favourite Frasier, 1999;Jerry Springer on Sunday, 1999;It’s Only Talk: The Real Story of America’s Talk Show, Arts and Entertainment, 1999;The Great American History Quiz: Pursuit of Happiness, History Channel, 2000; as host, Miss World 2000, 2000; in Talking to Americans (also known as Rick Mercer’s Talking to Americans), 2001; also appeared as cohost, Jerry Lewis’s Stars across America Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telethon. Contestant on Dancing with the Stars, 2006; guest in episodes of other television shows, including Married... with Children; Roseanne; The X-Files; The Tonight Show with Jay Leno; The Steve Harvey Show; The Wayans Bros.; Sabrina, the Teenage Witch; Malcolm & Eddie; Mad TV; Space Ghost Coast to Coast; Suddenly Susan; The Cindy Margolis Show; The Weakest Link; Rendez-Vous; Celebrity Deathmatch; Larry King Live; Who’s Line is it Anyway?, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, On Air with Ryan Seacrest, and The Chris Rock Show. Appeared in films (usually as himself), including Meet Wally Sparks, Trimark Pictures, 1997; (in archive footage) The Big One, 1997;Kissing a Fool, Universal, 1998; as Jerry Farrelly (and producer), Jerry Springer: Ringmaster (also known as Springers and Ringmaster), Artisan Entertainment, 1998;A Fare to Remember, Artisan Entertainment, 1999;The 24 Hour Woman, 1999;Kismet, 1999;Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (also known as Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me), New Line Cinema, 1999;Sex: The Annabel Chong Story, 2000;Sugar & Spice, New Line Cinema, 2001;You’ll Never Wiez in This Town Again, Dimension Films, 2003; as Marty Rockman, Citizen Verdict, 2003; and as the president, The Defender, 2004. Appeared as himself in videos, including The Best of Ed’s Night Party, 1996;Jerry Springer: Too Hot for TV, Real Entertainment, 1998;Killer Sex Queens from Cyperspace (also known as Killer Queens from Another World and V.I.C.T.I.M.), 1998;The Best of Jerry Springer, Real Entertainment, 1998;Secrets and Surprises, Real Entertainment, 1998;Springer: Bad Boys and Naughty Girls, Real Entertainment, 1998; and I Refuse to Wear Clothes!, Real Entertainment, 1998. Air America Radio, host of Springer on the Radio, 2005-06. Recorded a country music album, Dr. Talk, 1995. Audrey Hepburn Hollywood for Children Fund, member of advisory board; National Muscular Dystrophy Association, vice president and board member; Kellman School, Chicago, IL, founder of scholarship fund.
AWARDS, HONORS: Emmy Award, for investigative journalism at WLWT-TV; Gates of Righteousness Award, Midwest Region, American Committee for Shaare Zadek Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel, 2004.
(With others) The Jerry Springer Show (television series), syndicated, beginning 1991.
(With Laura Morton) Jerry Springer: Ringmaster (memoir), St. Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Jerry Springer: Too Hot for TV (video), Real Entertainment, 1998.
(With others) Jerry Springer UK (television series), 1999.
(With others) Late Night with Jerry Springer (television series), 2000.
Author of the country music single Dr. Talk.
ADAPTATIONS: A stage play titled Jerry Springer: The Opera, written by Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas, was produced at the National Theater, London, England, 2003-c. 2005, toured British cities thereafter, and was televised by the British Broadcasting Corp. in 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Talk-show host Jerry Springer has become an American institution and a touchstone in debates about morality in modern pop culture. Whether or not his prominence in that culture is evidence of the downfall of Western civilization is in the eye of the beholder. To his critics, The Jerry Springer Show’s endless parade of voyeuristic topics and chair-throwing, hair-pulling brawls prove that it is “a perverse circus” and “a freak show,” in the words of one of the shows more powerful critics, Connecticut senator Joseph Lieberman. But to Springer, the show is merely “chewing gum” for the mind. In an interview with Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly, Springer declared, “Look, if I’m Satan, then we’re all okay—because then Satan ain’t that bad.”
Nothing in Springer’s early life, as catalogued in his memoir, Jerry Springer: Ringmaster, would suggest that his greatest claim to fame would be as the host of a rowdy talk show. The son of German-Jewish refugees who fled from the Nazis, first to London, England (where Springer was born) and later to Brooklyn, New York, Springer headed first for a career in politics. Armed with a degree from Tulane University in political science and a law degree from Northwestern University, Springer joined the presidential campaign of Senator Robert F. Kennedy before taking a job with a law firm in Cincinnati, Ohio, and becoming involved in local politics there. He won a seat on the city council in 1971, resigned after it was discovered that he had patronized a prostitute, and then three years later was elected mayor. As the “boy mayor,” as the early-thirties Springer was dubbed, he made a point of serving the interest of average citizens. With a van dubbed “Jerry Springer’s Mobile City Hall,” he worked on Cincinnati’s streets; he spent a night in a city jail to bring publicity to the poor conditions there. It was only after losing his bid to become governor of Ohio that Springer turned to television. He became a journalist for a Cincinnati television station, where he won an Emmy for his investigative reporting. When he first launched his talk show, it was an extension of his “serious” journalism, featuring panel discussions about the issues of the day. But after three years of low ratings, in 1994 The Jerry Springer Show revamped itself into the carnival of camp that it is today.
To some television critics, The Jerry Springer Show is an extension of Springer’s work as mayor in bringing disenfranchised people into the spotlight and the political debate. Buried under the hoopla that surrounds the show, Joshua Gamson wrote in Tikkun, “is a serious, class-tinged battle over who gets to do what in public, who gets to speak and how.” On other shows, guests are required to conform to the “self-appointed gatekeepers of public space and the chaperones of middle-class public propriety”; on Springer’s show, they are free to act as they wish. In an interview with Rebecca Johnson and Kathleen Powers for Good Housekeeping, Springer seemed to confirm this interpretation of what he does. “Virtually all of television is a canned, restricted, vanilla view of life,” he said, “and the people on television are always white, upper-middle-class people wearing jackets and ties. We are showing a non-power group. They’re not powerful because of their education or their age, and they’re not the people we’re used to seeing on TV. I like the people on our show because they don’t put on airs. They are real.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Newsmakers 1998, Issue 4, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, five volumes, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Broadcasting & Cable, December 15, 1997, Joe Schlosser, “Jerry Springer: Punching the Envelope,” pp. 32-35; April 27, 1998, Joe Schlosser, “Jerry Springer: Scraps or Scripts? Talk Show under Fire for Allegations of Staging,” p. 10; July 31, 2000, Susanne Ault, “Another Talk Show on Trial?,” p. 10; November 12, 2001, Joe Schlosser, “Springer Staying Put—For Now,” p. 39.
Crain’s Chicago Business, March 16, 1998, Jeff Borden, “Jerry’s Talking Trash, Counting Cash,” pp. 1-2.
Entertainment Weekly, October 20, 1995, Ken Tucker, review of Dr. Talk, p. 66; January 23, 1998, Kristen Baldwin, profile of Springer, pp. 16-17; November 20, 1998, Chris Nashawaty, review of Jerry Springer: Ringmaster, p. 80.
Esquire, January, 1999, Mim Udovitch, interview with Springer, p. 89.
Good Housekeeping, September, 1998, Rebecca Johnson and Kathleen Powers, “Jerry Springer under Siege,” pp. 114-119.
National Review, June 2, 1998, Richard Brookhiser, review of The Jerry Springer Show, pp. 56-57.
New Orleans, November, 1997, interview with Springer, p. 11.
Newsweek, August 16, 1999, Martha Brant, “Senator Springer? TV’s Smutmeister Toys with a Bid from Ohio,” p. 27.
New York Post, December 13, 2006, Don Kaplan, “Jerry Rigged: Reality Series Shocker.”
People, November 27, 1995, Bryan Alexander, review of Dr. Talk, p. 26; August 14, 2000, “Talk Show Triangle: A Guest on Jerry Springer Winds Up Dead—with Her Ex-Husband Accused of Murder,” p. 143.
PR Newswire, May 21, 2004, “Jerry Springer to be Given Gates of Righteousness Award by the Midwest Region of the American Committee for Shaare Zadek Medical Center in Jerusalem.”
Sarasota, January, 2006, Kay Kipling, “If You Knew Jerry: There’s Much More to Sarasota’s Most Famous Resident, Trash-Talk TV Icon Jerry Springer, Than Most of Us Would Ever Imagine,” p. 112.
Television Week, July 28, 2003, Chris Pursell, “Springer Senate Bid Dims,” p. 1; May 8, 2006, Allison J. Waldman, “American Pie: The In-Your-Face Success of ‘The Jerry Springer Show,’” p. 31.
Tikkun, November-December, 1998, Joshua Gamson, “Why They Love Jerry Springer,” pp. 25-27.
U.S. News & World Report, January 8, 1996, Jim Impoco, interview with Springer, pp. 50-51.
Vanity Fair, February, 2006, interview by George Wayne, p. 118.
Variety, November 23, 1998, Dennis Harvey, review of Jerry Springer: Ringmaster, p. 48; May 31, 1999, Cynthia Littleton, “Stations, Solons Wrestle over Jerry,” p. 19.
Jerry Springer Show Web site, http://www.jerryspringertv.com (February 5, 2007).*