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
“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.