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'The People's Court' Star Judge Wapner Dead at 97

'The People's Court' Star Judge Wapner Dead at 97
Lormar Television

Reality TV icon Joseph Wapner — better known as irascible Judge Wapner to millons of fans of "The People's Court" — has died at 97, TMZ reports.

Wapner had breathing issues last week and wound up in hospice care, dying Sunday morning.

Judge Wapner presided over "The People's Court" from the show's debut in 1981 until 1993, deciding heated small-claims cases and becoming a TV institution along the way.

Judge Marilyn Milian has worn the robe on the show since 2001.

Before TV stardom, Wapner served in WWII and worked for 20 years on the California Municipal and Superior Courts.

Wapner is survived by Mickey, his wife of 70 years, and two sons. A daughter preceded him in death in 2012.