Newswire: R.I.P. Judge Joseph Wapner from The People’s Court

As reported by the Associated Press, The People’s Court‘s Judge Joseph Wapner has died. No cause of death has been given, but TMZ says that he was hospitalized last week with “breathing problems” and his condition had worsened since then. He was 97.

Though his tenure on the bench of The People’s Court is his most famous contribution to popular culture, Wapner actually served as a real judge for 20 years, spending most of that time on the Los Angeles County Superior Court. In 1981, two years after retiring from his previous judicial position, Wapner found himself presiding over The People’s Court. On that show, his folksy, no-nonsense demeanor—certainly informed by his decades of real-world experience—helped make the show into a massive hit, not only creating the whole courtroom-based reality show genre but jumpstarting reality TV in general.

As a Washington Post story explains …

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