The judge was 97!

Judge Joseph Wapner was the first star of the ongoing reality courtroom series, The People's Court. He held court from 1981 to 1993; or, twelve seasons, 2,484 episodes. Or maybe that should be "trials". Judge Wapner said that each episode was real.

There's no script, no rehearsals, no retakes."

He considered each case a trial.

Wapner's career as a judge began in 1959 when he was appointed by California Governor Pat Brown, to the Los Angeles Municipal Court. Two years later, he was elevated to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. After 18 years, he retired, and presided over The People's Court.

After twelve seasons, the show was cancelled due to low ratings. The show was revamped a few years later in 1997. Judge Wapner was not invited back. His honor was not happy about that. He was succeeded by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, Judith Sheindlin, who went on to be better known as Judge Judy, and Marilyn Milian.

Over the years, Wapner wrote two books and made numerous appearances and was still active. He was hospitalized a week ago. He son, David, told the Associated Press that the elder Wapner had died in his sleep, Sunday. Wapner was 97.