Judge Joseph Wapner of 'The People's Court' Dies at 97

Posted February 27, 2017

He was born and grew up in Los Angeles.

Wapner first went to the hospital last week after complaints of breathing problems. "The People's Court" was the first reality TV show and opened the doors for some of the most popular court shows on television. He served in WWII and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star while serving in the South Pacific in Cebu. According to the show's intro, the plaintiffs and defendants agreed to drop their claims and appear on the show and enter into a binding arbitration.

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The People's Court captured the attention of pop culture, going on to be parodied regularly on Saturday Night Live and becoming an obsession of one of the lead characters in Rain Man. Florida State Circuit Court Judge Marilyn Milian is now presiding and has become the show's longest-reigning arbiter.

He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Mickey, and by two sons, both of whom joined the legal profession.

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The People's Court was canceled in 1993, but aired in syndication until it was revived for a second time in September 1997.

"When "The People's Court" came along, I had an opportunity to really teach people about law".

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Wapner died on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 97.