Jerry Springer's death stunned some of his closest friends and colleagues. His cause of death is certain to do the same.

The television talk show host died on Thursday (April 27) before news of any illness was revealed to the public. Even former "bodyguard" Steve Wilkos admits he didn't know Springer was suffering. Talking to ET, Wilkos recalls meeting his former boss for a cigar about a month ago.

"He never told me he was ill. And now, I think that night I saw him was his way of saying goodbye to me without saying goodbye," Wilkos says.

Unlike previous visits, this encounter was more of a "walk down memory lane" which, Wilkos recognizes, may have been intentional.

"He embraced me. He hugged me like he had never done before and he was telling me he loves me," the Steve Wilkos Show host says.

Colleagues like Geraldo Rivera also expressed shock upon hearing the news of Springer's death. See if you can spot both men along with the other sitting presidents of '90s daytime television in this photo.


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How Did Jerry Springer Die?

Jerry Springer died from pancreatic cancer. CNN spoke with his representative on Friday, one day after the 79-year-old passed at home in Chicago. Springer did not share his diagnosis with the public before dying, making his cause of death something of a shock to fans and friends.

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's irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on. ~ Jene Galvin, family friend.

Reactions to Jerry Springer's Death

People spoke to many of Springer's '90s and early '00s television colleagues, and all expressed shock and sadness.

"I am shocked and saddened by the passing of Jerry," Maury Povich shares. "He was not only a colleague but a friend."

Whoopi Goldberg lauds his TV show and the host as a "great guy." Montel Williams sent thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

"He was a bright, funny man whom I considered to be a friend," says Sally Jessy Raphael. "He will be missed."

  • Prior to hosting the Jerry Springer Show, Springer was a lawyer, newscaster and the mayor of Cincinnati.
  • Springer was married to Micki Velton until 1994.
  • The couple had one daughter, Katie.

The Jerry Springer Show was (as Springer would later say) a pioneer in "trash TV" that often brought one person to the stage to discuss a conflict before introducing their combatant. Those interactions would typically become violent, and when that happened, the crowd cheered wildly, chanting, "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!"

During a somewhat contentious interview with David Letterman in 1998, Springer insisted the action was authentic, but allowed that some producers overreached and encouraged violence. He also admitted his show was "stupid," showcasing a humility that made the whole thing work.

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