Jerry Springer, the famous talk show host known for his controversial and confrontational style, has died at the age of 79 at his home in suburban Chicago, according to a statement from his family.

After Jerry Springer‘s family shared that the daytime host had died early Thursday following a “brief illness,” PEOPLE has confirmed that Springer’s death was the result of cancer.

Family spokesperson and longtime friend Jean Galvin also told NBC News he died from pancreatic cancer.

Springer’s longtime friend and religious leader, Rabbi Sandford Kopnick of The Valley Temple in Cincinnati, told PEOPLE that the Jerry Springer Show host’s “illness was sudden.”

“He hasn’t been sick for a long time,” Rabbi Kopnick shared of Springer, 79, whom he visited just last week. “He died of cancer, and he didn’t have cancer for very long.”

Galvin described Springer’s ability to connect with people as the heart of his success.

“He’s irreplaceable and his loss hurts immensely, but memories of his intellect, heart and humor will live on,” Galvin said.

Born on February 13, 1944, in London to German Jewish parents who fled to England to escape the Holocaust, Springer moved to New York City’s Queens neighborhood when he was a child.

He later attended Tulane University, where he studied political science, before obtaining a law degree from Northwestern University.

While Springer is best known for his talk show, which ran in syndication for 27 years from 1991 to 2018, he had a varied career that included a stint as mayor of Cincinnati in 1977.

He also hosted “America’s Got Talent” seasons 2 and 3 and most recently hosted his own syndicated courtroom show “Judge Jerry,” which was canceled in early 2022 after three seasons.

He even competed on season 3 of “Dancing with the Stars” in 2006 and season 8 of “The Masked Singer” in 2021.

Springer’s talk show was often criticized for its sensationalism and for featuring guests who were willing to air their dirty laundry in public.

However, he defended his show, saying that it gave people a platform to speak their minds and that it was an important part of the American cultural landscape.

Springer was married to Micki Velton from 1973 until their divorce in 1994. The couple had one child, a daughter named Katie.

Springer’s passing marks the end of an era in American television.

Despite the controversies surrounding his show, Springer was a beloved figure who will be remembered for his unique brand of entertainment and his ability to connect with people from all walks of life. His legacy will live on through the memories he leaves behind and the impact he had on popular culture.