Steve Wilkos Pays Tribute To Late Jerry Springer: ‘Everything I Have Today I Owe To Jerry’ (Exclusive)

The TV world is mourning a legend.

Jerry Springer, the iconic host who changed the talk show industry with his blockbuster daytime series in the ’90s, has passed away. He was 79 years old. Access Hollywood confirmed Springer’s death on Thursday morning. According to his rep, he died peacefully at his Chicago-area home following a brief illness, surrounded by his family.

Steve Wilkos, his longtime friend and former security guard on “The Jerry Springer Show” shared a heartfelt tribute with Access Hollywood, “Other than my father, Jerry was the most influential man in my life. Everything I have today I owe to Jerry. He was the smartest, most generous, kindest person I’ve ever known. My wife and I are devastated. We will miss him terribly.”

Remembering Jerry Springer: His Life In Photos

Remembering Jerry Springer: His Life In Photos

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Jerry, born Gerald Norman Springer in London, England on February 13, 1944, immigrated to Queens, New York at the age of  four along with his parents and older sister. He graduated from Tulane University and Northwestern University Law School, served in the United States Army Reserves and had a long career in law, politics, journalism and broadcasting.

He was known for the Jerry Springer Show, the Judge Jerry Show, the Springer on the Radio Show, Baggage, the Jerry Springer Podcast and until recently even his own 60s folk music radio show in Cincinnati. He also wrote an autobiography and once starred in a movie. But he captured the emotions of the country in 2006 with a shockingly long and humorous run on the popular Dancing With the Stars Show.He was mayor of Cincinnati (1977-78), a Cincinnati city council member (1971-74, 1975-1982), an unsuccessful candidate in the Democratic Party primary for governor of Ohio (1982) and an entertainment and broadcasting icon.

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

”Funeral services and a memorial gathering are currently being developed. To remember Jerry, the family asks that in lieu of flowers you consider following his spirit and make a donation or  commit to an act of kindness to someone in need or a worthy advocacy organization. As he always said, “Take care of yourself, and each other,’”  the statement read.

Springer is survived by his daughter, Katie Springer, whom he shared with ex-wife Micki Velton. He and Velton were married from 1973 to 1994.

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