JUDGE JUDITH SHEINDLIN SHARES SOME THOUGHTS WITH TOTI MEDIA:
MY HOMETOWN NEIGHBORHOOD was Brooklyn, New York, a great place to grow up.
MY CAREER PATH always took me to the law.
COMING TO NAPLES was the best decision my husband and I made. Beautiful sunsets, interesting people and good weather.
WHEN I started in the television business, I was hoping for a three-year run. It’s 20 years later and I still enjoy what I do and the program is still going strong.
LIFE IS ALWAYS an adventure, if you’re up for it. We have one go-around and if you’re smart, you make the most of it.
AT A GLANCE:
• Sheindlin has a deal that runs through 2017. She reportedly earns $47 million annually, or some $900,000 per work day.
• In a magazine profile, she said she pursued her future husband, Jerry Sheindlin, cornering him at a New York bar. “Lady, get your finger out of my face,” he reportedly told her. The couple married in 1978.
• She reportedly enjoys a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin.
• Her favorite game is gin rummy.
• The show’s cases are real, but spectators are extras who are paid to talk among themselves.
• She earned a reputation in New York Family Court for being blunt and tough-talking. “I can’t stand stupid, and I can’t stand slow,” was one of her oft-repeated “Judyisms” at that time.
• Reportedly traveling in Greece, Sheindlin purchased a white lace collar, one of her trademarks.
• A week’s worth of shows is filmed in a day. • A research staff of 60-plus pores over lawsuits filed in local Small Claims Courts. Potential litigants forgo a civil hearing in exchange for a free trip to Los Angeles, an $850 appearance fee, and a per diem of $40.
• The best cases involve litigants with a prior relationship, the plot of any mystery or daily soap.
• Court Bailiff Petri Hawkins Byrd first worked with Sheindlin in Manhattan Family Court. He reportedly (and kiddingly) offered to work with his boss on television because he looked good in uniform.
• Sheindlin reportedly wanted to call her show Hot Bench, changed that to Judy Justice, settling on Judge Judy because it would be impossible to replace her as had been done on The People’s Court, a reality show featuring Judge Joseph Wapner that launched the genre in 1981. Wapner retired after 2,484 episodes.
• The story is that Murray Blum, Sheindlin’s father, was a dentist whose office was in the family home. In those days, according to reports, a dentist’s best tool to distract nervous patients was the gift of gab. Blum was a master storyteller. Listening to her father taught Sheindlin to deliver a punchline.
• A media outlet relates the story of Sheindlin’s being approached by a woman in Hollywood. The woman introduced herself as Lorna Berle and said her husband was a fan and asked if Sheindlin would mind talking to him for a moment. Sheindlin greeted legendary performer Milton Berle by singing the theme song to Texaco Star Theater, her favorite television show as a child. Berle complimented her in return, saying, “Kid, you’ve got great comic timing.”