(JTA) — Jerry Springer, the son of Jewish refugees who set aside a promising political career to become the ringleader of a circus-like syndicated talk show featuring feuding couples, angry exes and frequent fisticuffs, died Thursday morning at his home in the Chicago area.
A family spokesperson told TMZ that Springer, who was 79, had been battling a “brief illness.”
Over nearly 5,000 episodes beginning in 1991 and lasting until 2018, Springer transformed daytime television conventions with a program designed to encourage conflict among its guests. Where rivals like Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue were interviewing celebrities and tackling more serious issues, Springer would bring on everyday people and pit them against one another in shows about incest, adultery and polyamory.
In an interview last year, he acknowledged the critics — including prominent British rabbis — who decried his version of “tabloid television” and said it had fueled divisions in society. “I just apologize,” he said. “I’m so sorry. What have I done? I’ve ruined the culture.”
Springer’s path to television notoriety was not preordained. He was born in a London tube station in 1944 during a German bombing raid to parents, Richard and Margot Springer, who were German-Jewish refugees from the Nazis. They escaped from what was then Prussia (now present-day Poland) and arrived in Britain in 1939 just before the outbreak of World War II. Twenty-seven other members of Springer’s family were killed in the Holocaust.
The family moved to the United States in 1949, settling in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens in New York City. Springer’s first career after earning a law degree from Northwestern University was in politics. He worked on the 1968 presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy that ended with Kennedy’s assassination, then ran a failed campaign for U.S. Congress in 1970 before being elected to Cincinnati’s City Council in 1971.
Springer’s only electoral success came in 1977, when he was elected mayor of Cincinnati and, under a power-sharing arrangement between his Democratic Party and a third party, served a single one-year term — by most accounts responsibly and effectively.
After serving as mayor, he anchored the news for the NBC affiliate in Cincinnati for 10 years before making the leap to syndicated TV.
“The Jerry Springer Show” started with more high-minded intentions before, as ratings dipped, he embraced the sensational. The television series was produced and aired by NBCUniversal and CW, and earned Springer a fortune: In 2000, Broadcasting & Cable reported, Springer was given a five-year, $30 million contract extension paying him $6 million per year.
The show’s high ratings and queasy critical reception (“family values” groups such as the Parents Television Council and the American Family Association called for boycotts) also obscured his own sober and tragic Jewish family story.
In 2008, Springer investigated his relatives’ fates on the BBC1 program “Who Do You Think You Are?” He broke down in tears at the train station where his maternal grandmother was sent to her death in the Chelmno extermination camp.
In 2015, Springer visited London to support a British Holocaust refugee project preserving the archive of what was originally known as the Central British Fund for German Jewry and later World Jewish Relief. The group helped tens of thousands of European Jews escape the Nazis to Britain in the 1930s and 1940s — including thousands of children as part of the Kindertransport and Springer’s parents.
“We are immensely grateful to Jerry Springer for giving his time to us and supporting our archives,” World Jewish Relief vice-chair Linda Rosenblatt said at the time.
“I was deeply touched when I received the records of my parents’ immigration,” Springer said. “These papers are a piece of my family history which I will treasure forever.”
After his talk show went off the air in 2018, he attempted a comeback with a courtroom show, “Judge Jerry.” It ran for three seasons. His last TV appearance came last season on “The Masked Singer,” where he performed as “The Beetle,” singing a Frank Sinatra tune.
In 2018, an off-Broadway version of the musical “Jerry Springer: The Opera,” opened in New York. Originally staged in London 15 years earlier, it featured songs celebrating the Springer ethos: “Fat people fighting / Open crotch sighting / Pimps in bad suits / Mothers who are prostitutes.” Nevertheless, a reviewer said the musical was “surprisingly free of the sometimes savage cruelty that distinguished the [talk] show from its wimpy competitors.”
In 2009, Springer joined the cast of the Broadway revival of the musical “Chicago,” playing the part of a slick lawyer whose adulterous client is facing charges in a tawdry murder case. It echoed a notorious incident from the real-life “Springer” show: In 2002, a man was convicted of killing his ex-wife hours after they and another woman were featured on an episode about love triangles.
In a 2004 interview with the public radio program “This American Life,” Springer put his tumultuous career in perspective.
“Well, we certainly made a difference in television. I’m not sure people are happy about it,” he told Alex Blumberg. “I try not to think about it too much. Life is what it is. And you take what’s handed and you work as hard as you can and, hopefully, you’ll be successful. But I just don’t spend too much time worrying about that. I do my show. I’ve always said it’s a stupid show. I’ve had a wonderful life because of it and all that, but I’ve never, for a second, thought that it’s important. It’s trivial. It’s chewing gum, and I recognize that.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, his survivors include his wife, daughter, son-in-law, grandson and sister.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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