Jerry Springer, one of the most influential and controversial figures in TV history, has died ... TMZ has confirmed.
Jerry hosted the smash hit syndicated talk show "The Jerry Springer Show" for 27 years ... and it was never a boring moment on the raucous and wild show -- which was known for its outrageous guests who usually got into crazy fights as the audience cheered, "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!"
A family spokesperson says Jerry was battling a "brief illness." Our sources tell us it was pancreatic cancer that was diagnosed a few months ago, and this week he took a turn for the worse.
The spokesperson says he died Thursday morning, peacefully at his home in the Chicago area.
Before TV, he was a politician who ran a failed campaign for U.S. Congress in 1970, got elected to Cincinnati's City Council in 1971 ... and became the city's mayor in 1977. He served one term.
But, Springer became a worldwide sensation with his show ... which debuted in 1991. Most people won't remember this, but when he started Jerry's show focused on political issues. Of course, it eventually became the exact opposite ... and a ratings smash.
Jerry's show was so popular in the late '90s, it even topped Oprah Winfrey's in several cities. 'Springer' finally went off the air in 2018.
He made one more run in TV, with his courtroom show, "Judge Jerry," which ran for 3 seasons.
Jerry's last TV appearance came last season on "The Masked Singer" ... where he performed as "The Beetle," singing a Frank Sinatra classic.
We're told his cancer battle got much worse about a month ago, and he finally had to stop working. He had been hosting a folk music show on a local radio station in Cincinnati.
He's survived by his daughter Katie Springer and his older sister Evelyn.