Judith Sheindlin dishes out strict, no-nonsense decisions on her courtroom reality show under the name Judge Judy.
Sheindlin graduated from New York Law School in 1965 and began her career as a lawyer for a cosmetics company. She later took the role in New York State’s family courts, prosecuting child abuse, domestic violence and juvenile cases. In 1976, Sheindlin was appointed a criminal judge by Mayor Ed Koch, and after four years, she was promoted to supervising judge in Manhattan division of family court.
In 1993, Sheindlin became the focus of a L.A. Times article that called her “tart, tough-talking and hopelessly blunt.” The article was followed by a “60 Minutes” feature, which paved the way for her first book “Don’t Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining.”
Sheindlin retired from the bench in 1996 and was soon approached to host her own courtroom television program. “Judge Judy” debuted Sept. 6, 1996, and has run in syndication since, supplying the world with barbs such as “On your best day you’re not as smart as I am on my worst day,” “The time to change was yesterday; the time to wake up is now,” and “Do you know when a gift becomes a loan? When the relationship is over. Have you ever heard that, sir? Well, neither have I. I just made it up. I'm going to put it on coffee mugs.”
In 2005, Sheindlin was making $25 million per season of “Judge Judy” and was at No. 13 on the Forbes list of the 20 richest women in entertainment. She also became a pop culture icon: Cheri Oteri parodied “Judge Judy” on “Saturday Night Live,” and Sheindlin appeared in an unannounced cameo during a 1998 sketch.