Jerry Springer didn't tell his friends he was ill, but made sure he got to say "goodbye" to some of his pals.
The 79-year-old talk show host died of cancer at his Chicago home on Thursday and his former collaborator Steve Wilkos, who was head of security on “The Jerry Springer Show”, has emotionally remembered their last meeting, which was unlike their usual catchups because they talked about the old days.
The former police officer admitted he "really didn't want to go" when Springer called him about getting together for cigars because he was tired after shooting his own “The Steve Wilkos Show” but ultimately didn't want to let down his friend.
He told Entertainment Tonight: "I really didn't want to go, but it's Jerry and I'm like, 'I want to see the guy and I love him.'
"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. I wish I would have known. I think in his way he was telling me goodbye.
"He embraced me. He hugged me like he had never done before and he was telling me he loves me.
"We sat down, and I think back now, we were reflecting a lot on the good times that we had, which we normally didn't do a lot, but this time it was a lot of reflection on the good times that we had together.
"And I was telling my wife, for me, it makes a lot of sense today.
"I'm hearing that he had pancreatic cancer, but he did not say anything to me. So, I'm really not sure. But if it's true, then he definitely said goodbye to me in a way that he was letting me know that that was the end."
Fellow talk show host Geraldo Rivera – whose show “Geraldo” aired from 1987 to 1998 – admitted he was also shocked to learn of Springer’s passing because he didn't know he was ill either.
He also spoke to Entertainment Tonight and said: "It was shocking to me. I mean, Jerry's just a few months younger than I am. We kind of had our talk show run in the same era.
"He always seemed so full of light, so to get the news that he had passed was quite shocking.
"I can't get in his head. I don't know why he would keep it a secret. But it's a very, very rough illness, so I can only surmise that Jerry didn't want to be the topic of one of his own shows."
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