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The golden days of daytime talk

Sally Jessy Raphael

Sally Jessy Raphael Photo Credit: Getty

While Oprah Winfrey has ruled the daytime airwaves for the past 25 years, she wasn’t the first afternoon talk-show host, and she certainly won’t be the last. amNewYork looks back at some of the shows featuring the significant daytime personalities who emerged during the heyday of the genre.

‘The Phil Donahue Show’
The white-haired, bespectacled former newsman hosted the prototype for the daytime talk show for more than 25 years.

Another bespectacled daytime host, Sally Jessy Raphael helped usher in the more shocking talk shows, with episodes on anything from pregnant teens to drag queens.

Best known for revealing the contents of Al Capone’s empty vault, the bushy-mustached Rivera featured celebrity appearances and tabloid stories on his show.

‘The Richard Bey Show’
This Queens native’s show — originally titled “9 Broadcast Plaza” — had some of the more controversial, outrageous episodes, such as “Miss Big Butt” or Dysfunctional Family Feud.” It was by far one of the raunchier daytime talk offerings.

‘The Jenny Jones Show’
While this talk show channeled “Oprah” in its infancy, it soon turned to raunchy, lowbrow topics such as paternity tests, makeovers, strippers and wild teens. Her program also featured musical guests, including Usher and Nelly. The show is unfortunately best remembered as the impetus for a murder when a gay man professed his love for his best friend who killed him three days later.

‘The Jerry Springer Show’
With Oprah’s impending retirement, the former mayor of Cincinnati is easily the most recognizable daytime talk-show personality. Catering to the lowest common denominator, “Springer” touches on any controversial topic you can think of, standing up in the audience while chaos ensues onstage.

Maury Povich — Mr. Connie Chung — handles a lot of the same topics as his daytime cohorts: paternity tests, makeovers, bullies and all sorts of infidelity. USA Today called his show “The worst thing on television. Period.”

‘The Montel Williams Show’
While Williams’ show mined the typical talk-show fare, in its later days Montel turned over a new leaf, focusing on inspirational, positive stories.

‘Ricki Lake’
Falling into the typical talk-show format, Lake’s show — while indulging in the usual sleaze — also touched on more sincere topics, such as domestic abuse and AIDS. There are rumors that Lake is considering a return to daytime TV.


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