The 1990’s was the heyday of the talk show market, with plenty of daytime talk shows vying for viewers’ eyes. Oprah Winfrey reigned supreme, but there were still plenty of other talk show hosts that had a place on your TV. Some when on to even bigger stardom, but others seemed to have left the public eye. Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable TV personalities and see what they’re doing now.
If TV talk shows could be classified into genres, The Jerry Springer Show would certainly be “scandalous drama.” The show still airs today and is currently in its 26th season. Over 3,000 episodes worth of scandal, fights, and confrontations have been recorded and the show doesn’t seem like it’s stopping anytime soon. The Jerry Springer Show even inspired the production Jerry Springer: The Opera, which ran for 609 performances from 2003 to 2005. The opera generated controversy due to its very racy content; sexual fetishes, adultery, and Klu Klux Klan members were among the the topics – just like Jerry’s talk show! Speaking about the opera, Springer told The AV Club: “It’s just a very personal moment that I can’t express to anybody. And then I felt a little bit awkward because, as I was watching it, everyone was looking at me to see what my reaction was. It was uncomfortable.”
Outside of the Springer talk show, the host has plenty of other projects in media, including a podcast and hosting gigs. He spent two seasons hosting America’s Got Talent and a year as the host of Springer on the Radio, a liberal talk show broadcast in Cincinnati, where he was one elected Mayor in the 1980s. Springer has also spoken out agains Trump, stating “Trump belongs on my TV show.”
Geraldo Rivera was once known as one of the tawdriest tabloid journalists. His biggest moment came in 1986, when he hosted a two-hour special called The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults. The live show promised to unveil Al Capone’s underground vaults. After two hours of relentless hype and power drills, the tunnels opened to a vault that was filled with exactly two bottles of cheap 1948 liquor. Despite the massive letdown, the show drew 30 million viewers. Rivera thought his career was over, but he resuscitated his career at Fox News,where he served as a war correspondent before hosting his own show. But Rivera’s late career was also marked by some bad moves. In 2012, during the Trayvon Martin saga, River was eager to blame the teenager for getting shot, stating that Martin shouldn’t have been wearing a hoodie.
“I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly not to let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as much as George Zimmerman was,” Rivera said. Rivera eventually apologized for those remarks, acknowledging how stupid they truly were.
Just one year later Rivera was back with another screw up. He tweeted a selfie of his 70-year old body. Geraldo was wearing a slim towel over his nearly naked body. Rivera blamed the gaffe on his habit of drinking tequila. Despite his uneven career, Rivera just won’t go away. He appeared on Celebrity Apprentice in 2015 and followed it up with an appearance on another reality show, Dancing With the Stars, in 2016.
Sally Jessy Raphael
Sally Jessy Raphael was a staple of daytime television from 1983 to 2002. Wearing her trademark red glasses, Raphael blazed a trail that at first relied on traditional journalism. Her shows reflected hard-hitting topics, debating issues like homosexuality, abortion and domestic violence. Eventually, Raphael’s producers pushed her in a more scandalous direction in order to compete with shows hosted by Jerry Springer and Maury Povich. Despite producers’ convictions that upping the sleaze would lead to more ratings, it actually spelled doom for the show. Ratings dropped, the host got unhappy and the show was finally cancelled.
Raphael told People Magazine she hated her final years as a talk show host. “I was betrayed by some of the producers into doing that. Come to think of it, I should have fought harder for what I knew was right — what I knew that I didn’t want to do.”
Raphael turned to Sirius XM Radio, hosting a talk show from 2003 to 2008. Since then, however, Raphael has been unable to find a niche. When Vulture asked her about the state of her career in 2015, she said she had accepted a day’s work giving one-liners for a show called Crazy Talk. Her pay? $1,000. Raphael spends lots of time on a farm and is basically retired.y7y
Montel Williams was a popular daytime talk show host in the 1990s. Now Williams has an image that transcends trash TV. Montel is known for his forthright takes on current events, most recently appearing to discuss the impact of President Obama’s legacy on America. Williams is a former Naval officer who regularly speaks out on behalf of veterans. He is also an outspoken advocate for members of the LGBT community. Williams attended an event during the 2016 Republican National Convention and railed against members who were pushing “bathroom bills” which were designed to single out transgender people for discrimination. “Too often we hear religious liberty used as a justification for legislative ideas that marginalize the LGBT community. We are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. He doesn’t see man or woman. That means he doesn’t see trans.” Williams said. “So how dare anybody who thinks or claims or stands up to say ‘I believe in Jesus Christ’ — you’re lying if you say trans people do not deserve the same rights as you.”
Williams, who has Multiple Sclerosis, has also become an advocate for people struggling with that disease. He has toured the country in support of medical marijuana, which Williams has used since 1999 in order to control his pain. In 2016, he teamed up with scientists to launch his own cannabis line in states where marijuana is legal. The herb is called LenitivLabs, and it aims to help people with pain management.
Jenny Jones was a longtime standup comedian before turning to talk show hosting during the 1990s, when there was an insatiable need for more talk shows. Jones was the first host to regularly bring musicians on for performances. Nelly, Usher and Ludacris all performed for Jones during the 12-year run of the Jenny Jones Show.
However, once Jones’ show went bust, she left Hollywood, preferring to focus on philanthropy. For four years she awarded grants to people who wanted to help their communities. The program, Jenny’s Heroes, originally was slated to give away a million dollars during a single year. The massive recession in 2008 inspired Jones to keep the program going through 2012. The London, Ontario native recently donated $200,000 to a playground project in her hometown.
Jones is nonplussed by her new non-showbiz lifestyle. She enthusiastically shares recipes on a simple website called Jenny Can Cook. She includes recipe tutorials and interacts with her fans, seemingly without any desire for more fame.
Maury Povich’s name is synonymous with five words: You are not the father! That’s because Povich’s tabloid talk show spent many afternoons exploring the paternity of children. Despite Povich’s talk show fame, he had a long and distinguished career. Povich has kept busy with other projects as well. He teamed up with his wife Connie Chung for a weekend news wrap-up called Weekends with Maury and Connie. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after just a few months back in 2006.
Povich became more visible during the 2016 presidential election, when he criticized other members of the TV media for conducting mostly telephone interviews with Donald Trump. He also jumped into pop culture commentary, showing up on The Breakfast Club with Charlamagne Tha God, where he learned the ins and outs of the term “Becky” as it relates to Beyonce’s groundbreaking album, Lemonade.
These days Povich is busy with a bar he purchased with Gary Williams, former basketball coach at University of Maryland, and Tony Kornheiser, who is a sports journalist and TV personality. The three bought a bar that has long been a hangout for journalists, sports figures and local TV personalities. The bar is appropriately named Chatter.
In the 1990s, nobody was hotter than Arsenio Hall, the first person to take on both the Tonight Show and David Letterman. Hall’s show was the place to be and won a place in TV history when then-candidate Bill Clinton appeared on the show wearing sunglasses and playing the saxophone. After the show was cancelled in 1994, Hall struggled to find a foothold in the new TV dynamic.
Hall dabbled in just about everything – a failed sitcom, a failed stint as host of Star Search, and a failed return to talk TV. Hall won the fifth season of Celebrity Apprentice, for whatever that’s worth.
ABC featured Hall on a TV show called Greatest Hits, which teamed new musical acts with old ones to sing hit songs from the 1980s through the 2000s. He also returned to the standup stage, embarking on a tour in 2017. Hall also had a bizarre run-in with Sinead O’Connor in 2016 after she accused him of giving drugs to Prince in the 1990s. Hall sued O’Connor for libel. The suit was dropped in February of 2017 when O’Connor printed a retraction:
“I apologize for my Facebook posts about Arsenio Hall to the extent that anyone thought I was accusing him of acting as Prince’s drug dealer and supplying him with illegal hard drugs, or insinuating that Arsenio had something to do with Prince’s death. I sincerely apologize because those statements would be false, and I retract them unequivocally.”
Ricki Lake began her career in John Waters’ film Hairspray as Tracy Turnblad, the music-crazy teen who just wanted to appear on a TV dance show. She appeared in other Waters movies like Crybaby and Serial Mom, making her mark on Hollywood. Her success led to her hosting the Ricki Lake in 1993 at age 24, setting a record for the youngest talk show host until 2013.
The show Ricki Lake tackled serious issues of her guests including same-sex relationships, parenting, AIDs, discrimination, welfare. The topics were interspersed with lighter fare such as celebrity impersonators, wish-granting episodes, and practical joke segments. The Ricki Lake show was nominated for several awards including a Daytime Emmy in 1994, but Lake lost to Oprah. In 2004, the producers of The Ricki Lake show renewed the series for another season, but the host decided to step down and spend time with her family. She expressed interest in returning to the small screen in later years, and did so in 2012, however, that talk show was canceled after one season.
Just because she’s not on TV with a talk show doesn’t mean Lake has faded from the spotlight. Her career as an actress, producer and presenter continues in new ways. She made a return to her Hairspray roots with a cameo in the 2007 film reboot of Hairspray as a William Morris Talent agent, and even lent her pipes to a song, “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now.” Lake worked consistently in Hollywood with guest appearances on King of Queens, King of the Hill and Drop Dead Diva, plus hosted Game Show Marathon and a VH1 reality series, Charm School with Ricki Lake. She even put on her dancing shoes for a stint on Dancing with the Stars in the show’s 13th season, and had a cameo in Hairspray Live on NBC.
Lake is also known for her work in women’s health and birth issues, starting with her live birth in the documentary The Business of Being Born, which she called “her life’s work for three years.” Inspired by what she learned in the documentary, she partnered with director Abby Epstein to produce Sweetening the Pill, a film about the dangers of hormonal birth control, then formed an online website, MyBestBirth.com, about birth options, plus wrote Your Best Birth, a book on the subject. The celebrity’s new cause is helping people struggling with depression, a topic she confronted after her ex-husband committed suicide.