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A day in the life of.. Talk-show host Jerry Springer.

Controversial talk show host Jerry, 54, was born in 1944 during an air raid in London to German-Jewish parents. They'd fled to England in 1939 and emigrated to the US ten years later. Jerry has degrees in political science and law, and lives in Chicago. He has a daughter, Katie, 22, from his marriage to Micki Springer. He tells SUE FOX about his typical day...

My day starts when I'm woken by the alarm clock at 7am. I'm a human being - I shower, shave, brush my teeth and put deodorant under my armpits. I might have coffee or breakfast.

One thing I never reveal is if I still have a wife, but I do have a daughter, Katie. When she was born, the doctors told us, "She has no holes at the back of her nose. She can't breathe if she closes her mouth." Three months later they told us, "She's blind, deaf in one ear and partially so in the other."

I'm happy to report Katie sees, hears and talks unceasingly on the phone with her boyfriend. She's preparing for college and for anything she wants to be - a gift to all she meets and the greatest Father's Day gift of all.

When I leave for the NBC studio I take the Armani suits which I wear on the show and change in the office. A driver picks me up. I don't talk in the car - I'm not good on small talk. This morning I was here in the office at 8am. I'll wield my baseball bat and occasionally treat myself to a cigar. I used to play baseball. Now it's golf and tennis. I don't work out, but I have very good genes.

My assistant Joanna brings me coffee and a bagel, and asks me what I want for lunch. We tape two shows, three days a week.

Obviously the Holocaust was the defining moment in my family's life. My grandmothers and uncles were exterminated in the death camps. If we chose to, I guess we could pretend racism no longer exists, that racists are now a footnote to history. Critics understandably ask, "Why give these Klan and neo-Nazi-type crazies airtime?" but it's important to expose this cancer in our society every time we spot it.

I was born smart, which is a gift from God, but I don't deserve all the good things which have happened to me. I could have had my parents' life so I never complain, though it doesn't mean to say I don't have bad days.

I learnt about the human condition in real life from five years on Cincinnati's council and then as the city mayor. We dealt with shootings and murders, robberies, rapes and decay. If you want to get upset about things, that's what you get upset about, not people on TV putting someone in a headlock.

The job I have now requires no skill. Anybody could do it. I'm no better than anybody else. I'm just a guy that got lucky.

I live a very normal existence. I read voraciously - this week it's a history of the Supreme Court - and I go to the movies.

Unbelievably I go shopping - just like everybody else, but it's difficult to walk down a street because I happen to have the stupidest show on television.

My other home is where I go when the recordings are over. It's not in Chicago, I don't live in Hollywood and I never hang out with celebrities. I own three cars, fly first-class and get treated embarrassingly nicely in restaurants, but my lifestyle today isn't much different to how it's always been. I have the same friends and the same hobbies. What's important are the people in your life who care for you and love you.

I support a number of different causes, but because I'm controversial I don't want to put them in a tough position. My involvement has to be without publicity.

Being Jewish is important to me. It's who I am, but it's hard to go to synagogue as often as I used to. On Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), the rabbi talked about talk shows. Everyone in the congregation turned to me. I can't get away from who I am publicly, which is why I've guarded my private life so much.

It's healthy that money came to me this late in life, so it hasn't warped me. As kids we always ate, but we lived in rent-controlled apartments. My father drove used cars. For me, money means I buy much more expensive gifts for friends. It's also been wonderful, because it's taken care of a need I have in my private life. I'm not going to tell you what that is.

I don't get to sleep much, but when I do, I'm out. I never remember dreams. As for anyone remembering me, I want my daughter to always know she had a dad who loved her. Other than that, in terms of TV history, I'm a blip on the screen. My hope is that nobody remembers me.

l The Jerry Springer Show, weekdays, ITV, 1.30pm
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Fox, Sue
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 13, 1999
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