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Judge Joseph Wapner, Star Of ‘The People’s Court,’ Dies At 97

(JTA) — Joseph Wapner, the retired judge who starred in the first television reality show, has died.

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

Wapner was the star of “The People’s Court,” which premiered in September 1981. He 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’s father was an immigrant to the United States from Romania who became an attorney, and his mother an immigrant from Russia.  He was born and grew up in Los Angeles.

Wapner is a graduate of the University of Southern California and the USC Law School..

He was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1959 and two years later to the Los Angeles County 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.”

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