Judge Wapner Dead: 'People's Court' Judge Passed Away At 97

He was taken to his home on Friday under hospice care and passed Sunday morning. Wapner was a real life judge in Los Angeles from 1961-1979.

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.

The entertainment publication additionally notes that Wapner's condition worsened sometime after his hospital visit, but did not state the main reason for his illness or his sudden passing. The series was the first reality show of its kind, using an arbitrage-based system to settle small claims disputes.

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Joseph was a USC Law grad and WWII vet and had been awarded both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

The show, which continued without him, became a pop culture hit and was parodied on Saturday Night Live and was mentioned by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man when all he wanted to do was watch The People's Court.

"The People's Court" was one of the granddaddies of the syndicated reality shows of today.

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David Wapner said his father died Sunday at home in his sleep.

He later hosted two seasons of "Animal Court" in the late 1990s. The judge came to fame after the first airing of the People's Court back in September 1981.

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