Joseph Wapner, retired judge who starred on ‘The People’s Court,’ dies at 97


(JTA) — Joseph Wapner, the retired judge who starred on “The People’s Court” — the first television reality show — has died.

Wapner died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 97.

“The People’s Court” premiered in September 1981, and Wapner heard thousands of cases during his 12 years on the show, according to the entertainment website TMZ.

Before appearing as a judge on television, Wapner served as a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.

Wapner, a Los Angeles native who grew up in the city, was the son of immigrant parents. His father came from Romania and became an attorney. His mother was from Russia.

He graduated from the University of Southern California and its law school.

During World War II, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for heroism while serving in the Pacific in Cebu.

He was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1959 and two years later to the Superior Court, where he served for 18 years before retiring in 1979. He also served as president of the California Judges Association.

Wapner received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2009. He wrote a popular memoir titled “A View from the Bench.”

Wapner’s son, Fred, followed in his father’s footsteps to become an attorney and then a judge. His son David Miron-Wapner also became an attorney.

Wapner was predeceased by his daughter, Sarah, who died in 2005. He and wife Mickey were married for 70 years.

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