After twenty-seven years and nearly 4000 episodes, The Jerry Springer Show is rumored to be finally coming to a close. The show began in 1991 as a political commentary show, but within only a few years it turned into the drama-filled show with the fist fights we all know and love.
Even though America has spent almost three decades watching, there’s a lot we might have forgotten. Does anyone remember Springer’s successful political career? Or the time someone from the show was murdered? These facts about The Jerry Springer Show and the man behind it will remind you why one of the worst TV shows in history is really one of the most iconic pieces of American culture.
The Show All Started Because Springer Was Phil Donahue’s Replacement
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Springer started out as the nighttime co-anchor on WLWT, the local Cincinnati NBC affiliate. In 1991, NBC needed to replace The Phil Donahue Show, so they chose Springer to star in a politically focussed show.
It’s difficult to imagine a show where two prostitutes fight over a man as originally being political.
They Did Anything They Could For Ratings In The Early Seasons
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In the first few seasons, the show moved quickly away from being politically centered to drama filled. But even the fights weren’t enough to keep viewers watching.
Producers tried to make the show more racy with episodes like “My Boyfriend Turned Out To Be A Girl” and “Which Are Sexier: Bigger Or Smaller Breasts On Women.”
By The Late 1990s, Springer Was Bigger Than Oprah
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The Jerry Springer Show was bigger than Oprah. Seriously. It might be hard to believe that Jerry Springer could win against mega-mogul Oprah in the daytime television ratings, but showing fights on TV brought in millions of viewers.
Continue on to read about the most controversial episode in history that is still banned on some networks.
Austin Powers Solidified Jerry Springer’s Place In American History
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If you thought The Jerry Springer Show doesn’t have a certified place in entertainment history, never forget about the time Austin Powers spoofed it.
In the opener to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Dr. Evil is confronted by his son Scott about the fact he wants to take over the world, and even Springer ends up in a fight.
Don’t Forget The Time Springer Starred In A Hollywood Movie
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Jerry Springer starred in his own movie. Yes, you read that correctly. Springer made his movie debut in 1998’s Ringmaster. Springer plays a talk-show host (shocking) who is involved in love triangles, cheating, and more.
Not unlike his TV show, the movie didn’t have a very positive reception. Springer did win a Razzie for his performance though.
A Lot Of People Were Outraged By An Episode On Beastiality
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The most controversial episode ever it still banned on some networks. In 1998, (I feel like 1998 was a wild year for Jerry), they aired an episode titled “I Married A Horse” that focused on bestiality. Since sexual acts with animals are illegal in America, they had to go overseas to film the episode.
Controversy follows everything Springer does. Keep reading to see why people quit their jobs because of him.
Bodyguard Steve Wilkos Caught A Major Break
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Steve Wilkos stumbled into being the star of the show. They initially hired him for one KKK-themed show in 1994. But then they kept hiring him back until he was eventually hired on as the full-time director of security.
Wilkos is a former marine and left a job as a cop to break up fights on the show. It was a real power move because it eventually landed him his own show in 2007.
Harvey Keitel Starred In Jerry Springer: The Opera
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In 2003, a theatre group in London, England turned the show into an opera. Naturally, anything related to Springer would be controversial. Many people were angry with the fact actors who played God, Satan, and Jesus had more than 8000 swear words.
It didn’t matter though, because the opera was insanely popular, even expanding to Las Vegas and New York. Oh, and Harvey Keitel starred as Springer for two nights.
People Refused To Work With Springer Because Of The Show
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The Jerry Springer Show was so controversial that religious and woman’s organizations began boycotting Springer’s news broadcast. They wanted him to cut the violence and show more respect for women. His two co-anchors actually quit because they didn’t want to share airtime with him. Hey, hater’s gonna hate.
Keep reading to find out if Springer actually likes his own show.
How Do People Even End Up On The Jerry Springer Show?
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If you’ve ever wondered how people end up on the show, you’re not alone. Springer would put up a number to call at the end of the show, and most of the calls were from impulsive viewers.
If the story sounded good, producers would fly the guests in overnight and get them on air the next day so that they couldn’t think it through and back out. Oh ya, and they don’t get paid.
One Episode Ended In Murder
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An episode ended in murder. A lot of episodes of the show seemed so wildly outrageous that nothing terrible could ever happen. But one episode in 2000 featured a man and his wife accusing his ex-wife of stalking.
Hours after the episode aired, the ex-wife’s body was found dead in her home, and the married couple tried to flee to Canada. The two were caught and plead guilty to second-degree murder.
Springer Thinks His Own Show Is Silly
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Jerry Springer admitted that he doesn’t even watch the show himself. In an interview, he said, “I would never watch my show. I’m not interested in it. It’s not aimed towards me. This is just a silly show.” I suppose if you’re witnessing all the juicy drama first hand, you don’t need to tune in and catch the edited version.
Next, read about how different Jerry Springer’s life was before the show.
Before He Was Breaking Up Fights, He Was In Politics
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Springer started out with an impressive political career. He’s a lifelong Democrat who was an advisor for Robert F. Kennedy, ran for Congress in 1970, and even became the mayor of Cincinnati.
He was mayor for one year, but during that time made his mark by presenting Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan the key to the city.
But Politicians Love Scandals
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A man who loves controversy must have some himself. He was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971 but resigned in 1974 after admitting to hiring a prostitute.
His resignation didn’t matter apparently, because he won his seat back a year later in a landslide win. The prostitution scandal did end up hurting him later though, when he tried to run as the governor of Ohio in 1982.
America Might Love Him, But He Wasn’t Born In America
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Springer might seem like the epitome of America, but he wasn’t even born here. Springer was born in 1944 in a London subway station that was converted into a bomb shelter. He was five years old when he sailed across the Atlantic ocean and arrived in the United States.
The Jerry Springer Show has had more than 35,000 guests over 27 years. Keep reading to find out if any of them were faking it.
Early Guests Would Go On The Show To Become Famous
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In its early seasons, The Jerry Springer Show became a place for marginalized groups to get their “15 minutes of fame.” Many people would send in videos explaining why they should be on the show, then come on and demonstrate their “deviant behavior.”
Transgender Comedy Central star Jade Esteban Estrada was one of the early stars.
The Show Embraced Its Awful Reviews
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Even though The Jerry Springer Show frequently topped TV Guide magazine’s “Worst TV Shows Ever” list, they loved it.
The show would actually use the ranking in their opening credits or to get more viewers. They invited the idea that their show was for “lowbrow” Americans. You have to work with what you’re given.
People Have Faked Their Way Onto The Show
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People have admitted to faking their drama just to get on the show. In 2003, three guests on the show from Hayward, California, admitted that they had faked a love triangle for air time.
Later on, one of the three was horrendously murdered, but it was investigated and found not to be connected to the love triangle.
Even The Government Was Out To Shut Down The Jerry Springer Show
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The government absolutely hated Springer’s show. In 1998, when Springer was at peak popularity, the U.S. education secretary and Connecticut’s senator got together to boycott the show.
Unless Springer decided to clean up the show, they threatened broadcasters with extra taxes and political problems so that they would stop airing the show.
Some Of The Boycotting Actually Worked
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All the outrage against his show eventually forced them to change. In 1998, the executive for The Jerry Springer Show announced they would be toning down the show’s violence.
They believed that viewers were there for the drama, the unpredictability, and the conflict, not just the physical fights. That’s how we ended up with episodes like “Adult Babies.”