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He was admitted to a publicly unnamed medical establishment, before being transferred to the care of a hospice worker at his West Los Angeles residence.

He served on the L.A. Superior Court before retiring and joining The People's Court when it premiered in 1981. "The People's Court" was the first reality TV show and opened the doors for some of the most popular court shows on television.

Wapner was also a military veteran, having served in the U.S. Army during World War II and earning a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service. He then spent 12 years as the show's judge.

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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. Two years after he retired, he got the job as the presiding judge for The People's Court.

The late star leaves behind his wife Mickey who he was married for 70 years, plus three kids.

Wapner, once regarded as the seminal figure of television mainstay The People's Court and a driving force behind current reality TV programming, is now dead at the age of 97. While the show's second run has been presided over by multiple judges, Wapner was the sole judge to preside during the court show's first run.


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