'People's Court' Star Judge Wapner Dead At Age 97

Joseph Wapner, the retired judge who starred on The People's Court for 12 years, died on Sunday morning. The reality show was the first of its kind and opened the door for many more court TV shows. Dustin Hoffman's "3 minutes to Wapner" in "Rain Man" became an iconic expression, TMZ is reporting.

Wapner first went to the hospital last week after complaints of breathing problems. Not lacking in credentials, Wapner had put in roughly twenty years of service as a L.A. County Superior Court judge before making the leap to television in 1981.

His son David explained that he was hospitalized a week ago and had since been under home hospice care. Judge Marilyn Milian took over the series in 2001 and has been hosting ever since.

Before reality TV was truly reality TV and before Jerry Springer was really Jerry Springer, and before all the judge shows on TV were really judge shows on TV there was The People's Court. It was canceled in 1993, but revived in 1997 with former lawyer and Mayor of New York Ed Koch as arbiter.

Wapner was married to wife Mickey for 70 years. The show\u0027s star, Judge Joseph Wapner, helped usher in a slew of imitators over the following decades, from Judge Judy \/em to Judge Joe Brown \/em .

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