Biography

Best known for her lead billing on the syndicated courtroom reality series Judge Judy, acerbic, by-the-throat justice Judith Sheindlin was born Judith Blum into a Brooklyn family, the daughter of dentist Murry Blum and his office manager-cum-wife, Ethel Blum. Judy graduated from American University, then decided to pursue her law degree and earned it from New York Law School, graduating from that institution in 1965. In subsequent years, she successfully balanced a career as a family-court prosecutor with the demands of raising two children and enduring a difficult marriage; that union, to attorney Ronald Levy, ended in divorce in 1976. Reportedly a mere three weeks later, Judy met her second husband, Justice Jerry Sheindlin (whom she married in 1978), and the two "pooled" their children into a combined residence. By 1982, Judy had worked her way into a position as prosecutor in New York City family court and quickly earned a reputation as a crusader for social justice -- with firm enough convictions and a vociferous enough attitude that she drew the attention of such national media outlets as 60 Minutes and The Los Angeles Times. In 1993, Sheindlin's life changed forever; that was the year the long-serving television justice Joseph A. Wapner opted to retire from The People's Court. Upon receiving the news, Sheindlin reportedly phoned the office of the production studio and offered to take the job herself; three years later, she got her wish with the launch of Judge Judy, which connected with its audience in the wake of such events as the O.J. Simpson hearing (an event that helped revive American public interest in the judicial system). Sheindlin then single-handedly led a veritable boom in Court TV as her audience numbers -- and annual salary (estimated by one source as over 30 million dollars when her tenth season on the air rolled around) skyrocketed; she also drew a host of unofficial imitators, from Judge Joe Brown to Judge Mills Lane, none of whom managed to consistently top Judy's ratings or popularity. On the side, Sheindlin also authored several best-selling books, including Beauty Fades, Dumb Is Forever: The Making of a Happy Woman and Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining. In 2007, Sheindlin hit another milestone, as episodes of her program debuted on home video in the fall of that year. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi