Gerald Norman Springer (February 13, 1944 – April 27, 2023) was an American broadcaster, journalist, actor, producer, lawyer, and politician. Born in London, England, during World War II to refugees escaping the Holocaust, Springer was raised in Queens, New York City.
Jerry Springer (talk show) debuted on September 30, 1991. It started as a politically oriented talk show, a longer version of Springer’s commentaries. Guests included Oliver North and Jesse Jackson, and topics included homelessness and gun politics.
In early 1994, Springer and his new producer, Richard Dominick, revamped the show’s format in order to garner higher ratings. The show became more successful as it became targeted toward tabloidish sensationalism. Guests were everyday people confronted on a television stage by a spouse or family member’s adultery, homosexuality, transsexuality, prostitution, transvestism, hate group membership, or other controversial situations. These confrontations were often promoted by scripted shouting or violence on stage. The show received substantial ratings and much attention. By 1998, it was beating The Oprah Winfrey Show in many cities, and was reaching more than 6.7 million viewers.