Joseph Wapner, star of television show ?People?s Court? on Oct. 22, 1986. (AP Photo/Galbraith)
One of the nation's best-know judges, Wapner presided over television's "The People's Court" from 1981-1993. He celebrates his 90th birthday on November 15.
Current "People's Court" judge Marilyn Milian; Harvey Levin, the show's host; and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will join Wapner in speaking in the late-morning ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard, near Orange Avenue and the offices of Ralph Edwards/Stu Billett Productions, the show's producers.
Wapner will return to "The People's Court" Friday to preside over what was described as "a special case" in honor of his 90th birthday.
Wapner was a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge when a fellow jurist and close friend recommended him to Edwards to preside over the small claims cases heard on the syndicated series.
A 1989 poll conducted for The Washington Post found that 54 percent of the 1,005 randomly selected adults could identify Wapner as the judge on "The People's Court," while 9 percent knew that William H. Rehnquist was then the chief justice of the United States.
Wapner graduated from Hollywood High School in 1937 and received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from USC in 1941. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, earning three Battle Stars, the Bronze Star for Bravery and a Purple Heart and rising to the rank of first lieutenant.
Wapner received a law degree from USC in 1948 and entered private practice the next year. His fame from "The People's Court" led to his speaking at Harvard Law School and Yale University.
Wapner also gained a measure of immortality from references in the 1988 best picture Oscar winner "Rain Man," whose title character Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman) was addicted to "The People's Court," uttering such lines as "10 minutes to Wapner."