Cheesy '90s Talk Shows We Miss (Plus One That's Coming Back!)

From Sally Jesse Raphael to Geraldo, these daytime hosts entertained audiences with dramatic surprises, trashy guests and bad hair

The '90s brought the end of the Cold War, the beginnings of the Internet, and a prosperous nation under President Bill Clinton. It also was a boon for daytime talk shows with the title, The "Insert Host's Name Here" Show.

Below, relive some of your favorite (and maybe even forgotten!) talk shows that either got their start or came to an end during the 1990s. Plus, we reveal some details about one '90s talk show that's set to make a comeback this fall. (Notably absent from this list: The Maury Povich Show and The Jerry Spring Show, which both got their start in 1991, and are like the cockroaches of daytime talk shows—they just won't die.)

The Phil Donahue Show: 1967-1996

Along with I Love Lucy and The Sopranos, Phil Donahue's talk show landed on TV Guide's list of the 50 Greatest Television Shows of All Time. On the air for 26 years, the show started out vastly different from how it ended: In the beginning, Donahue resembled the late-night talk show lineups of today with celebrity guests and musical acts, but by its end in 1996, the show shifted focus to more controversial topics. Many credit Donahue as the mother of all daytime talk shows, giving birth to the likes of The Sally Jesse Raphael Show, Geraldo, and even Oprah. To wit, in this clip, Donahue explores the '90s phenomena of moshing, featuring none other than Marilyn Manson!

The Sally Jesse Raphael Show: 1983-2002

Famous for her trademark red-framed glasses, Sally Jesse Raphael largely focused her show on women's issues like domestic abuse, abortion and the challenges faced by working mothers -- none of which were the hot-button topics that they are today. She also had a fondness for drag queens, as seen in this clip featuring the shoe's female impersonation pageant.

The Richard Bey Show: 1987-1996

A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Richard Bey made sure his talk show was full of characters. Guests would often compete in contests like “Miss Big Butt” and “Mr. Puniverse,” but perhaps Bey's biggest get -- which he claims ultimately led to his show's demise -- was an interview with Gennifer Flowers, the Penthouse magazine model and actress who claimed to have an affair with President Bill Clinton. Watch a clip of the interview below.

Geraldo: 1987-1998

Before there was TMZ, there was Geraldo, which Newsweek famously dubbed the dawn of trash TV after a now-infamous episode in 1988 featuring -- well, a bunch of racists. Watch the clip.

The Montel Williams Show: 1991-2008

Montel stands out in this roundup for being less trashy and more touchy-feely than its '90s talk show brethren. On his show, Montel Williams reunited lost loves, shared stories of women who had been traumatized in some way, as well as covered health issues like multiple sclerosis, which Williams was diagnosed with in 1999. Psychic Sylvia Browne was a regular guest on the show, and both Williams and Browne drew the ire of critics when on one episode, Browne told a couple their missing son was dead -- except he turned up alive a year later. Watch the clip below.

The Jenny Jones Show: 1991-2003

Jenny Jones' show wasn't any different than those of her '90s talk show colleagues -- in fact, critics cite that fact as part of the reason it consistently lagged in the ratings. Even so, Jones' show will go down in history for one particular episode that never even aired: “Same Sex Crushes” taped on March 6, 1995, where Scott Amedure, a gay man, confessed his crush to his best friend Jonathan Schmitz. Three days after taping, Schmitz killed Amedure. The tragic episode never aired, save for in the HBO documentary Talked to Death, featured in the clip below.

Ricki Lake: 1993-2004

Two-time talk show host Ricki Lake (she also hosts The Ricki Lake Show, on the air since 2012) began her daytime career in 1993 with a primary focus on the issues facing young adults. Just 20 years old at the show's start, Lake focused on such topics as female bullies, preventing teenage pregnancy and finding love online (a novel concept at the time). The show's signature was the sound of a doorbell, which rang every time Lake knew a guest was lying, and in came the person who knew the truth. Relive the doorbell in the video below, around minute three.

The Jane Pratt Show: 1993

Sassy fan girls may remember this daytime talk show featuring the magazine's founding editor Jane Pratt, which ran just 36 episodes on Lifetime before being canceled. Topics included “Sexual Harassment in School” and “AIDS Test Anxiety,” -- in fact, most of the show's episodes centered around sex. Still, a few featured celebrity guests, including the band Ween, who admit on their own YouTube page that they were high during the early morning filming of the show. That much is clear from the clip below.

The Queen Latifah Show: 1999-2001

Before Tyra, there was the Queen. Latifah's show focused on celebrity interviews and human interest stories, and gave us the opportunity to see the softer side of the rapper, who seems to have gone into relative hiding as of late. But as it turns out, Latifah is set to re-debut her talk show this fall, and if it's anything like this clip featuring Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill, well -- we can't wait.

 

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