JUDGE JUDY

Closer Weekly - - Front Page - By RON KELLY

The no-non­sense TV judge breaks her si­lence about her di­vorces and how she found true hap­pi­ness.

The ver­dict is in: Judge Judy Sheindlin has the hots for her hus­band, Jerry. “I still like to see him walk into a room. He looks good,” she says, ad­mit­ting that at 74 she still goes to great lengths to look her best for him. “We’ve been mar­ried 40 years and he has never seen me with­out my hair combed or lip­stick on,” she re­veals. And Jerry, 83, has been warned not to take that for granted: “He knows he has to keep a rea­son­able physique or else he’s out the door!”

Judy, in fact, di­vorced Jerry in 1990, 13 years af­ter they first wed, when he

THE STRAIGHTSHOOTING TV JUDGE OPENS UP ABOUT THE TRUTH BE­HIND HER DI­VORCES — AND HOW SHE FI­NALLY FOUND HAP­PI­NESS

failed to be there for her emo­tion­ally when her dot­ing dad, Mur­ray Blum, passed away. But the old-fash­ioned ro­man­tic soon caved and they re­mar­ried a year later. “I missed Jerry. I like to have some­one to fuss over,” Judy says. “I like to be mated. It’s nat­u­ral for me.” So is liv­ing life by her own rules. Now Judy breaks her si­lence about the heartaches she’s en­dured and how she over­came them. “I con­sider my­self a pretty savvy woman, but I’ve been mar­ried three times, twice to the same guy,” she shares. “I learned the hard way that some­times what you think makes you happy won’t. You have to step back from your emo­tions and de­cide what

mat­ters most.” As she’s quick to warn, “I like to make de­ci­sions!”

HER ROLE MOD­ELS

Grow­ing up the daugh­ter of Mur­ray and Ethel Blum in Brook­lyn dur­ing the ’40s and ’50s, Judy had high ex­pec­ta­tions about mar­riage. “My mother and fa­ther had a great love af­fair. They were a sexy cou­ple,” she says of her par­ents’ 48-year union, dur­ing which Mur­ray wooed Ethel with po­ems and love let­ters.

Mur­ray was equally demon­stra­tive to his daugh­ter and in­spired her to strive for suc­cess. “He wrote in my ju­nior high year­book, ‘You should be some­thing [by now]. I should be call­ing you doc­tor, lawyer or a teacher,’ ” re­mem­bers Judy, who knew she wouldn’t be sat­is­fied be­ing a house­wife. “He al­ways thought I would be some­thing dif­fer­ent.”

He was right, but in Judy’s era a woman’s first steps to free­dom started with mar­riage. “You left your house in a pine box or a white dress,” she quips, “so it was time to get mar­ried. I was al­most 21. It seemed like the right thing to do.” By 1963, she grad­u­ated from col­lege with a de­gree in gov­ern­ment and headed to law school. “My fa­ther said to me, ‘You ar­gue well. You should be a sen­a­tor,’ ” she re­calls. “I fig­ured that in or­der to be a sen­a­tor, you should go to law school first.”

Judy wed lawyer Ron­ald Levy in 1964 and shortly af­ter get­ting her de­gree from New York Law School the fol­low­ing year, they wel­comed daugh­ter Jamie and son Adam. “Nice guy, good dancer,” she says of her at­trac­tion to Ron­ald. “I stayed home with the chil­dren for a few years, but af­ter a pe­riod of time I was bored,” she says, adding in dis­be­lief, “I ac­tu­ally watched soap op­eras — and looked for­ward to them!”

Though she cher­ishes the time she got to spend with her young kids, she raced back to work af­ter get­ting a mas­ter’s in fam­ily law. Un­for­tu­nately, Ron­ald wasn’t as ex­cited as she was by her de­ci­sion. “My first hus­band is a lovely, lovely man, but he al­ways viewed my job as a hobby,” she re­veals.

Ron­ald dis­agrees. “A hobby? I don’t think so,” he tells Closer. “She was a pro­fes­sional. She was a lawyer, and I can’t take that away from her. And she did well!” Judy saw things dif­fer­ently. “He didn’t want any­thing that in­ter­fered with the way he ran his prac­tice,” she in­sists. “He didn’t want his life in­ter­rupted, and there came a time when I re­sented that.”

She knew she had to leave him, but do­ing so was tough. “I was the first di­vorce in my fam­ily. It was scary,” she says, but “it was the right thing to do. And within a rel­a­tively short time I met Jerry Sheindlin, so it was a fright­en­ing time but a fun time.” The at­trac­tion was in­stant. “I would have mar­ried him two days af­ter we met. I was so crazy about him,” she raves, “but we didn’t marry for a year.”

Jerry, a di­vorced lawyer with three kids of his own, was a great match. “We ar­gue and we have ter­rific fights,” she ad­mits, “but there is some­thing that you can’t quite put your fin­ger on” in terms of their chem­istry. Still, Jerry fell short when Mur­ray passed away in 1989. “My

COURT OF AP­PEAL “We are very lucky. They are lov­ing to both of us,” Judy says of her and Jerry’s happy blended fam­ily of five. From left: Ni­cole, Jonathan, Adam, Jamie

and Gre­gory.

“I took six

Tylenol a day when I sat in fam­ily court, but I loved ev­ery minute of it,” Judy says of her long­time pas­sion for her job, still

ev­i­dent on her hit TV show.

Here come the judges! Judy and Jerry in 1983

The se­cret to Judy and Jerry’s mar­riage? “You just have to keep plug­ging at it,” she tells Closer.

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