The People’s Court Judge Joseph Wapner Dead At 97

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What an unbelievably sad day in entertainment!

First, we learned of the untimely death of actor Bill Paxton.

Then, we reported on the other untimely death, this time of young actor Neil Fingleton.

And now… Judge Joseph Wapner has died, we’ve learned. He was 97 years old.

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Wapner was an instant sensation for his work on The People’s Court, where he debuted in 1981 and effectively became the very first reality TV show.

Of course, Wapner’s pioneering 12-year run on The People’s Court also paved the way for other TV judges and court shows, like so many of the shows we know today.

According to TMZ, Wapner had been hospitalized last week with breathing problems, and over a several day period under care, his condition worsened.

On Friday, Wapner was taken back to his home in west Los Angeles under the care of a hospice facility. He died Sunday morning.

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He was married to his wife, Mickey, for 70 years, and the pair had three kids together.

R.I.P., Judge Wapner — you were a true TV pioneer and legend in your own right.

[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]

Feb 26, 2017 3:02pm PDT