'People's Court' Judge Joseph Wapner dead at 97

Joseph Wapner, the retired judge, who was famous for his role on "The People's Court" has died at the age of 97.

Wapner changed the television game in 1981 when he debuted as the presiding judge on "The People's Court," which allowed TV-watchers inside the courtroom. Wapner had a 12-year run on the show and was beloved for his impassioned speeches, quick opinions and the way he captured the audience.

The show is still on the air today with Judge Marilyn Milian sitting on the judge's bench.

PHOTOS: A look at Joseph Wapner

Wapner's personality was also documented in pop culture history with shows like "Saturday Night Live" creating funny sketches about him and Dustin Hoffman's "3 minutes to Wapner"expression in "Rain Man."

Prior to joining television, Wapner served as an L.A. County Superior Court judge for 20 years. He was a respected member of the Los Angeles legal community and was married fro his wife, Mickey for 70 years and had 3 children.

According to TMZ, Wapner was hospitalized last week with breathing problems and his condition worsened, to the point he was taken to his home Friday under hospice care. He died Sunday morning.

PHOTOS: A look at the famous stars who've passed on in 2017