Springer died Thursday at his home in Chicago. He was 79.
Springer died peacefully in his home outside Chicago, Illinois, on Thursday following a battle with a "brief illness." He was 79. Best known for his long-running tabloid talk show, The Jerry Springer Show, which debuted in 1991 and aired in syndication until 2018, Springer was a colleague and friend to many, including Rivera.
ET's Kevin Frazier spoke to The Five on Fox News co-host following the shocking news Thursday, where he looked back on their time on air and shared the positive impact his long-running show had on viewers and the daytime TV community.
"It's quite an extraordinary time. Oprah [Winfrey], was kind of the mother hen, then Phil Donahue. And then you had the acolytes. Jerry, Montel [Williams], me and some of the others. Jenny Jones, Ruth Westheimer, Sally Jesse, Maury Povich, who's still flying those borders," said Rivera, who hosted his own show, Geraldo, from 1987-98. "You could not put on your television but see one of these daytime shows. There are many people whose entire daily schedule revolved around many of the programs that were on at the time. Sometimes, we soared to great heights, and other times we were kind of applying the gutter of life."
While Rivera left at the height of the daytime talk show craze, he said that Springer took a different approach to things, adding a level of performance to some of those wild TV moments.
"I think Jerry took it to a performance level, though. I think that Jerry knew what he was doing. He brought the combatants into the ring, and he let them tear each other apart. Whatever the issue of the moment was, he was very visceral, very real," he recalled. "I always marveled at how calm he always was, holding his notes, and he'd step off to the side, and Steve or one of the other henchmen would go and separate the combatants."
Rivera continued, "It was... a very vivid time in television. Vivacious is a good word for it. It was daring."
As for his own relationship with Springer, Rivera the pair knew each other through that television circuit and developed a rapport over the years.
"Jerry was a Renaissance man, he really was. I mean, former mayor of Cincinnati. When you look at his career, I didn't even know until reading his obit that he was born in the U.K. I had forgotten that he was British, to begin with, and a survivor of a family that fled the Holocaust. He had very impressive credentials. He went to Tulane, Northwestern. He got into the business, but he could do it all," the longtime journalist remarked.
"He could be as serious as any statesman, or as raucous as any burlesque carnival barker. I think that's what made him so resilient, and gave him the chops to last through the decades, and so many different capacities -- game show host, talk show host, mayor, legislator. He really did it all," he continued. "He had a very full life, and he seemed to enjoy it, and he had that that catch phrase -- 'Take care of yourself and others,' you know, kind of a kindness."
Rivera added, "So, even though the show could be very rough and sometimes rude and crude, he ended with the note of kindness. He ended with a note of, 'Let's recognize that we're all in this together.'"
While there was a slew of hosts and on-air personalities at the time, none were as "fun" as Springer, Rivera said, telling ET that the could talk to the late host about everything from "international affairs" to "bedroom affairs."
"Jerry was so fun, and he was so intelligent, and his interests were so broad," Rivera shared. You could talk to him about international affairs or bedroom affairs. You could talk to Jerry about whatever occurred to you. If you wanted to go Playboy Magazine, he was there. If you want to go Newsweek, or Time, or Variety, or Vanity Fair -- whatever your editorial angle was, Jerry had experience there, and he could talk intelligently and entertainingly about it."
Calling Springer a "ringmaster," Rivera said that while many left the talk show business and the often out of this world dilemmas they were met with on-air, Springer was able to not only handle those but bring a sense of calm and ease to even the most stressful situations.
"Jerry Springer was a ringmaster. He was someone who could -- unflappable with kind of a steady demeanor, with almost an intellectual approach -- watch as people really revealed their dark side in the very dramatic way," he added. "He was masterful, and I hope I was less premeditated. But everybody is a producer, and maybe in the sense that these ensemble shows, everybody is a ringmaster."
For a look at Springer through the years, check out the gallery below.