Povich was born into a Jewish family in Washington, D.C., the second of three children born to Ethyl (née Friedman) and Washington Post sportswriter Shirley Povich. His paternal grandfather, Nathan Povich, emigrated from Lithuania to the United States in 1878 at age 12. Maury graduated from the Landon School in 1957, and from the University of Pennsylvania in 1962 with a degree in television journalism.
Not long after graduation, Povich got his first job on Washington, D.C., radio station WWDC, where he did publicity and worked as a reporter. By 1966 he was a news reporter and sportscaster for D.C. television station WTTG-TV. In 1967, he became the original co-host of the station's popular midday talk show, Panorama, which brought the rising star widespread acclaim and national recognition. From 1977 to 1983, he was a news anchor at stations in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Philadelphia. He finally returned to Washington, D.C., in June 1983.
When media mogul Rupert Murdoch acquired the Metromedia TV station group in 1986, one of his first moves was to bring Povich to New York to host A Current Affair. The show began in late July 1986, and while it was considered a tabloid infotainment show that often focused on celebrity gossip, it also made time for compelling human interest stories. Critics praised the show for trying to be both informative and entertaining, much like "a good afternoon newspaper". Povich hosted Affair until 1990. He also anchored newscasts at WNYW.
Povich served two consecutive terms as president of the New York chapter of the National Television Academy. In September 1991, he left A Current Affair to host The Maury Povich Show, which was nationally syndicated and distributed by Paramount Domestic Television in partnership with his own production company, MoPo Productions, from 1991 to 1998. For raising awareness of National Adoption Month, Povich was honored by New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1995.
In 1998 the show was taken over by Studios USA (then a division of USA Networks, later renamed Universal Television after being sold to Vivendi Universal; and NBCUniversal Television Distribution after VU Entertainment was sold to NBC owner General Electric). When Studios USA took over production of the show, it was renamed simply Maury. The show often veered into what critics called trash TV, and in 1998 it became known for a segment called "Who's the Daddy?" during which men who were denying or trying to establish paternity were given DNA tests and the results were revealed on the air.
On January 9, 2000, Povich hosted the short-lived primetime revival of the classic game show, Twenty One on NBC. Reruns of the show have been aired on GSN.
In November 2005, MSNBC announced Povich would co-host a weekend news program with his wife, Connie Chung. The program—titled Weekends with Maury and Connie—debuted on January 7, 2006, but was canceled due to low ratings. The final episode aired on June 17, 2006.
He appeared as himself in the fourth episode of the sixth season of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. He is portrayed as a New Yorker who is apparently seen everywhere in the city—often in several places at once. He also appeared as himself in the film Madea's Big Happy Family.
In May 2007, he launched the Flathead Beacon, a weekly print newspaper and online news source in Montana's Flathead County, where he has a home and is a member at the Eagle Bend Golf Club.
In 2015, Povich made a guest appearance on the Adult Swim show The Jack and Triumph Show.
From 1962 to 1979, Povich was married to Phyllis Minkoff. Maury and Phyllis have two daughters together, Susan Anne and Amy Joyce Povich. Amy is married to physician and author David Agus.
In 1984, he married news anchor Connie Chung, whom he had met while working in the news department at WTTG-TV in Washington. In 1995, Chung and Povich adopted a son, Matthew Jay Povich.
On the TV show MadTV, Povich was portrayed by actor Michael McDonald He was also mocked in a 2002 South Park episode called "Freak Strike".The Imagemaker (1986) - Talk-Show Host
The Swinger (2001) - Himself
How I Met Your Mother (2010) - Himself (episode Subway Wars)
Madea's Big Happy Family (2011) - Maury Povich