Son says Joseph Wapner, unlikely TV star, dead at 97

Entertainment
Obit Judge Wapner_351884

FILE – In this Friday, Oct. 13, 1989, file photo, retired Judge Joseph A. Wapner of TV’s ‘The People’s Court’ congratulates his son, Judge Frederick N. Wapner, right, as he was enrobed as a Municipal Court judge in Los Angeles. Wapner, who presided over “The People’s Court” with steady force during the heyday of the […]

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A family member says Joseph Wapner, who presided over “The People’s Court” with steady force during the heyday of the reality courtroom show, has died. He was 97.

David Wapner said his father died Sunday at home in his sleep. He said his father was hospitalized a week ago with breathing problems and had been under home hospice care.

“The People’s Court” was one of the granddaddies of the syndicated reality shows of today.

Wapner decided real small-claims cases on the show from 1981 to 1993. He auditioned for the show soon after retiring from Los Angeles courts, where he had been a judge for more than 20 years.

His affable, no-nonsense approach attracted many fans, putting the show in the top five in syndication at its peak.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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