Jerry Springer, the TV presenter best known for his raucous talk shows, has died aged 79.
The Jerry Springer Show, which ran for nearly three decades from 1991, brought fights, flying chairs, and the fringes of US society to a global audience.
Springer died peacefully on Thursday at his home in Chicago, his publicists confirmed to BBC News.
Jene Galvin, a friend of Springer’s and spokesman for the family, described him as “irreplaceable”.
“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,” he said.
“He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humour will live on.”
Springer’s chat show became a symbol of low-brow television over the course of almost 5,000 episodes with its chaotic confrontation, swearing and infidelity revelations.
Fellow chat show host Ricki Lake led the tributes on social media, writing: “Just waking to the very sad news of the passing of my longtime talk show rival and friend Jerry Springer. A lovely man. May he rest in peace.”
Broadcaster Piers Morgan described Springer as a “TV icon and such an intelligent, warm, funny man”.
“Loved working with him on AGT [America’s Got Talent], loved hanging out with him (we lived in the same hotel for two years), loved arguing with him (he loved his politics), loved everything about him,” he added.
Springer repeatedly defended his show against accusations it was too low-brow.
He told the BBC in 2014: “You could decide only to put well-scrubbed, wealthy people who speak the Queen’s English on television and just do that but that wouldn’t reflect the whole society.”
“If all shows were like mine, that would be wrong. But you can’t just have a television that is like Friends, Seinfeld, all these wealthy people, good-looking people and you love it,” he added.
“If some wealthy, famous person goes on television and talks about who he or she has been sleeping with, we can’t get enough of it. We cheer them. But if it’s some person of low income, all of a sudden we say trash.”
On his Twitter profile, Springer jokingly declared himself a “talk show host, ringmaster of civilisation’s end”.
Springer called his programme “escapist entertainment”, but others saw the show as contributing to a dumbing-down of television and a decline in social values.
He often jokingly told people he met that his wish for them was: “May you never be on my show.”
It won four Olivier awards including best new musical. In January 2005, its UK television broadcast on BBC Two attracted 55,000 complaints.
From 2007 to 2008, Springer hosted America’s Got Talent, and in recent years he fronted the courtroom show, Judge Jerry.
In June 2009, Springer made his stage debut as Billy Flynn in Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre, in London.
Springer also appeared on the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? programme, tracing his family through the Holocaust to the small town of Neustettin, which is now in Poland.
Springer’s family asked that in lieu of flowers, people should donate an act of kindness to someone in need, or a worthy advocacy organization, in tribute to the way Springer would sign off from his talk shows: “Take care of yourself, and each other.”