In the early 90s, talk shows started to replace the once popular soap operas of the 70s and 80s in ratings. Audiences turned away from the melodramatic fictional storylines to watch real people deal with real issues.
Talk shows started out dealing with serious issues but after a year or so, and to keep audiences enticed, they began to focus less on serious issues and more towards what became known as tabloid talk. Talk Show producers sought out guests and shows that would illicit controversy and provoke strong emotions. The more controversial and outrageous the guests, the higher ratings.
Talk Show hosts like Phil Donahue and Sally Jessy Raphael catered to the Baby Boomer generation and paved the way for talk show hosts like Ricki Lake. Ricki Lake became very popular with Generation Ex. Sensational, young, and provocative storylines were what audiences wanted to watch. When Donahue saw the success of Ricki, he went from discussing foreign politics and current events to talking about baby mamas. Donahue wasn't the only talk show host to foray into the dark side. Montel Williams and Maury Povich also went that route.
The most popular trash-talk show that emerged from the 90s would have to be The Jerry Springer Show. Jerry Springer became known for having the most outrageous guests that would beat each other up on stage. The hair pulling, nail scratching antics of the guests made audiences go crazy. Let's take a look at 15 of the craziest talk show guests in the history of talk shows.
15 Tom Cruise, on Oprah
In 2006, Tom Cruise went on Oprah to promote his new action film War of the Worlds. Things went from strange to downright bizarre when Tom was quizzed about his love life. It started with some enthusiastic on-the-knee cheering to bear hugging Oprah to jumping on the couch! Oprah couldn't hide her shock at his behavior. The audience loved this crazy Cruise and were highly entertained with his over-the-top antics.
Towards the end of the show Tom went behind-the-scenes and pulled an embarrassed Katie Holmes out onto the set. Tom and Katie had just begun what was going to be a whirlwind relationship that would ultimately lead to marriage and culminate in a very high profile divorce. Tom Cruise's couch jumping on Oprah is still one of the most highly memorable celebrity moments.
14 I Am (Not) Pregnant, on Dr. Phil
Haley was convinced she was pregnant and due to give birth in a matter of days. Her mother and sister believed her to be lying but she was so adamant and even agreed to go on Dr. Phil to prove to everyone once and for all that she was going to have this baby.
Dr. Phil arranged for Dr. Travis Stork from the CBS television show The Doctors, to order an ultrasound and give the results on air. Haley was shown her ultrasound and told there was no sign of a baby in her uterus. She was very surprised as she had told Dr. Phil she had felt the baby kicking during the ultrasound. Instead of finding a baby Dr. Stork said the ultrasound technician did find evidence of severe constipation. It was revealed that not only did Haley believe she was pregnant but she thought she was going to give birth to Jesus! Yes, immaculate conception.
13 Pickle Phobia, on Maury
Mariah reached out to The Maury Show to help her get over her fear of... pickles. Yes, pickles. Her fear was so great that it was interfering with her everyday life and causing her absolute misery. She was relentlessly teased at school and work over her really odd fear. Terrified of pickles.
Maury decided to bring Mariah to a pickle factory to really get an understanding of how real her fear actually was. Her reaction was of sheer terror. She ran from the pickles like the pickles were coming after her with butcher knives. Maury promised to get her help and rid her of this humiliating fear that was significantly affecting her life.
12 Toilet Paper Eater, on Tyra
Ianieka appeared on Tyra Banks' talkshow to discuss her diet. Ianieka's diet was definitely uncommon, and quite unhealthy. Ianieka enjoyed eating toilet paper: rolls and rolls of toilet paper. On average Ianieka ate four rolls of toilet paper a week! She said she enjoyed the taste and the feeling of it temporarily blocking her airway. Her addiction started when she was kid.
Ianieka's addiction was so severe that the toilet paper formed a blockage in her intestines and she couldn't go to the bathroom for a month! It took many laxatives to get her bowels moving again. A gastroenterologist that came on the show said that Ianieka would die if she continued eating toilet paper.
11 Don The Vampire, on Tyra Banks
Don Henrie, also known as 'Don the Vampire', appeared on Season 4 of Tyra. He went on the show to discuss his affinity for the vampire lifestyle. Don was extremely pale from lack of sunlight. He had his raven hair grown out and his canine teeth sharpened into points.
Not only did Don physically look like a vampire he also lived a vampire-like lifestyle including sleeping in a real coffin. He loved to sleep in a coffin. At his home he didn't have a traditional bed. Don had a coffin. He claimed the sensory deprivation from sleeping in the coffin eased the pain of his fibromyalgia, a painful joint condition. Don has appeared in a few documentaries on the vampire culture as well as playing himself on various gothic television shows and films. He appeared in the film Vampyres.
10 Frostbite The Gangster, on Sally Jessy
The gangster teenager "Frost-Bite" appeared on Sally Jesse Raphael to talk about her gangster life. When Sally asked her to talk about all the things she's done as a member of a gang, Frost-Bite didn't hold back. She openly admitted to killing people, stealing cars, armed robbery, and doing drugs. She went on to say she would have no problem taking children and wives to be sexually assaulted and/or murdered if she felt she was disrespected or wronged in any way. She pointed at the audience and said she wouldn't feel anything or hesitate even a little at taking "anyone of yous daughter's or killing your entire family" if she was told to do it. Needless to say, audience members were scared and shocked, while others were rather skeptical.
9 Big Baby, on Jerry Springer
Heidi appeared on The Jerry Springer Show in a diaper. That would be perfectly fine if Heidi was an infant but Heidi was a grown man! This grown man insisted on living as a baby! He wore a diaper and a bonnet. He slept in a crib and enjoyed playing with infant toys. He went around town and his daily life as an infant!
Heidi was cared for by his older female partner. Heidi's partner catered to Heidi's wishes. She fed and changed Heidi. She even bathed Heidi! Heidi would even go out in public dressed and acting like a baby. He didn't pay any attention to the stares and nasty comments. Heidi enjoys living life as a baby and had no plans to change his ways.
8 Extreme Hater, on Tyra
Shirley Phelps-Roper is a particular nasty brand of crazy. She was one of the lead spokespeople for the extremist church Westboro Baptist Church. She's also the daughter of the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps.
Shirley appeared on Tyra and admitted to being one of the biggest lovers of homosexuals. She said she was the biggest lover of them because she could tell them they were going to hell for their behavior. She had no problem with protesting at the funerals of AIDS victims, soldiers, or homosexuals.
Shirley is a well-educated lawyer and her and her husband have 11 children. Shirley even had one child out of wedlock. Hypocrite? Definitely. Several of her children have left the church and disowned their family, but the remaining children plan on continuing in their mother's footsteps.
7 You're Not The Father (Of One Twin), on Maury
Maury is well-known for his "You are not the father" segments on his show where he reveals the results of paternity tests. In 2008, one particular guest was a woman that gave birth to a set of twins. Normally it's just assumed twins have the same mother and father, right? At least that's the case with 99% of twin births. Not in this case. These were fraternal twins. Each twin had obviously the same mother but completely different fathers. Their DNA was completely different! The man being told that he was without a doubt the father to the twins was visibly elated that only one of the kids was his. He was jumping for joy over the revelation.
Maury was just as shocked as the audience. He had to do a little fact-checking into the situation so in 2011, when it surprisingly happened a second time on his show, he was armed with the medical facts to explain to the confused audience how this could possibly happen. If a woman has sex multiple times with two different men during an ovulation period--and two eggs are fertilized--you will get twins with two different fathers. This happens to less than 1% of fraternal twins.
6 Real Heartbreakers, on Jenny Jones
The 2001 romantic comedy Heartbreakers starring Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt, was about a mother-daughter duo who enjoyed a pretty good living by getting unsuspecting men to shower them with gifts and money. Well, it seems art imitates life. The real life mother daughter duo of Heather and her mother, beg men for jewelry, cash, cars, and more.
Heather and her mother don't have to work. They depend on men for everything. The mother encourages her 15 year old daughter to go after guys. Both mother and daughter insist they don't do anything physical with the men and the men just enjoy their company. The word delusional comes to mind.
5 Broken Nose Battle, on Geraldo
In 1988, on the infamous Geraldo episode "Teen Hatemongers" Geraldo Rivera got punched and ended up with a bloody and broken nose. He's lucky that's all he received.
The fight started when one of the racist teenage punk guests called a black guest, Roy Innis, "Uncle Tom". Roy calmly got up from his chair and walked over to the punk. He suddenly grabbed him by the neck and started choking him. All hell broke loose. The production crew and security ran to end the fight but the other guests and audience members ran the stage throwing punches and chairs. Geraldo was hit with a chair and then punched in the nose.
After the scuffle, Geraldo famously said: "These racist thugs are like roaches that scurry in the light of exposure." He didn't press charges because he said he didn't want to have anything to do with the roaches.
4 Bobcat The Pyro, on The Tonight Show
Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait was a popular comedian in the early 1990s. His comedy bordered on edgy and obscene. Still, his antics on The Tonight Show, with Jay Leno, were definitely not something anyone could have predicted. During the middle of the interview Bobcat got up from his chair and pulled out a bottle of lighter fluid he had concealed in his pocket.
Bobcat took the lighter fluid and poured it all over the guest chair he had been sitting on. He then pulled out matches and quickly struck a match and threw it on the chair. It all happened so quickly that people were just so shocked, several seconds went by before people came running to extinguish the fire. Bobcat was not only permanently banned from The Tonight Show, but charges were filed against him. He had to pay for the cost of the chair as well as several thousands in fines. He also had to appear in anti-arson public service announcements. Bobcat gave no real reason for starting the fire, only that he felt like doing it.
3 Cash Me Ousside Girl, on Dr. Phil
You probably know Danielle Bregoli best as the "Cash Me Ousside" girl. Danielle's mother appealed to the Dr. Phil Show for help with her out-of-control teenage daughter. 13 year old Danielle came on to the show spewing all sorts of crap. She was definitely a teenager with a severe attitude problem. It wasn't until Danielle turned to the audience and yelled at them for laughing at her, that it turned her into a viral internet sensation. "Cash me ousside, how bow dah?!" she yelled multiple times.
Well, Dr. Phil sent Danielle to a place to get help--one of the best, most expensive places in the country. Danielle seemed to do a 180. Dr. Phil invited Danielle and her mother back on to the show. Well, someone got a little too big for her britches. Suddenly Danielle had an agent and had demands before she would come back on the show. When Dr. Phil asked about her change in attitude she went right back to her old ways. She then told Dr. Phil that he was a nobody before she came onto his show. Her mother even sided with her bratty daughter! The mother turned from someone at her wit's end, begging for help for her daughter to an arrogant b-word that thought she somehow deserved to have Dr. Phil begging HER to be on the show with her crazy daughter!
2 Sinead O'Connor, on SNL
Okay, Saturday Night Live isn't exactly a talk show, but it does have guests, and this one was so offensive that we had to mention her. In 1992, Sinead O'Connor appeared on the late night sketch-comedy program. Producers made a tragic mistake in allowing the controversial singer to perform the Bob Marley song "War", using her own lyrics.
Sinead horrified the audience and the show's production team when she pulled out a photograph of Pope John Paul II and ripped it apart! This was after she sang about child abuse! The producers couldn't cut her performance off fast enough---and she was quickly ushered out of the building. Sinead has been banned from Saturday Night Live indefinitely. Her actions were considered absolutely abhorrent and unforgivable. The photo was later taped back together.
1 Cut Off My Legs, on Jerry Springer
Sandra takes the cake for the craziest guest in talk show history. Sandra cut off her own legs with an electric saw. Sandra was born as Wendell. Wendell never wanted to have legs.
As a child he always wanted them to disappear. He dreamed of being legless and confined to a wheelchair. Finally after a lifetime of depression and anxiety stemming from having legs, he decided to do something about it. Wendell got an electric saw and intentionally chopped off both of his legs.
Wendell eventually began transition into becoming a woman named Sandra. Sandra came on The Jerry Springer Show and said she was the happiest she has ever been. Sandra's ex-wife and daughter also appeared on the show. They were disgusted with Sandra's behavior and called her "one sick puppy".
Sources: Wikipedia, New York Times, TalkShows.com, DrPhil.com