Judge Wapner, Pop Culture Icon: Remember Rain Man?

When I heard about the death of Judge Wapner from The People's Court, my thoughts immediately went to Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man. Because not only was he "an excellent driver," he was also a bit of a fan of the legal proceedings in The People's Court. 


Judge Joseph Wapner decided real small-claims court cases on television from 1981 to 1983. His show was some of the original reality TV and the first of many courtroom shows. There's little doubt that Judge Judy owes him a debt of gratitude. 

The man was a real judge in California before he agreed to take on the show, but he was also a decorated veteran of World War II. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. And as a student at Hollywood High School, the New York Times reports he briefly dated movie star Lana Turner... before she was famous. Judge Wapner was 97 years old. 




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