Joseph Wapner, the first star of court-reality show The People’s Court, passed away on Sunday Feb. 26. He was 97.
According to TMZ, Wapner had been hospitalized with breathing problems last week. At the time of his death Wapner was under hospice care at his Los Angeles home.
Prior to starring on The People’s Court, Wapner served as L.A. County Superior Court Judge for two decades. Wapner debuted as the judge on The People’s Court in 1981 and remained on the show for 12 years, longer than any other judge in the show’s history, MSN notes.
The show became a pop culture phenomenon, with parodies and references ranging from Saturday Night Live to movies like Rain Man.
Wapner is survived by his wife of 70 years, Mickey and his three children.