Jerry Springer, the ex-mayor of Cincinnati who gained a national profile with his eponymous, fight-filled TV talk show, has died at 79 after a “brief illness,” according to TMZ.
Springer was born in the underground Highgate train station in London, then a makeshift bomb shelter, on Feb. 13, 1944. His parents were German Jewish refugees who escaped the Nazis with the help of World Jewish Relief. At the organization’s 2017 business dinner, he told his family’s story before quipping, “This is a general rule that I always follow: If somebody saves my life, I’ll always show up at their dinner.”
Springer learned more about the fate of his family on a 2008 episode of the British edition of Who Do You Think You Are? Both of his grandmothers died in the Holocaust, his paternal grandmother, Selma Springer, in the Theresienstadt ghetto hospital and his maternal grandmother, Marie Kallman at the Chelmno extermination camp.
When he was 4, Springer relocated with his family to Kew Gardens, Queens. After graduating from Tulane University and Northwestern Law, Springer worked as an aide to Robert Kennedy and as a lawyer in Democratic politics.
Springer said his family history “made me profoundly liberal,” adding, “it was instinctive for me to be involved with civil liberties. You don’t have to be lectured about tolerance when your family has been through the Holocaust.”
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