Being a woman in a male-dominated profession was pretty hard back in the day. Nowadays, things are changed, but it took us quite some time to get where we are today.
Judy Sheindlin, or as most of you know her as “Judge Judy,” was never afraid to pursue a career as a lawyer. In fact, she always knew she would become one, although people believed she didn’t belong in the profession. When she graduated from the American University in Washington DC 1963, she was the only woman in her class of 126 students.
Judge Judy finished her law degree at the New York Law School in New York City, where she was born and raised.
She recalled that at the time, people couldn’t understand why she would pursue a career in law, and that included some of her professors. “Why are you taking up the seat of a man who is going to have to support a family,” one of her professors told her. But she was determined to make her dreams come true, and her parents, especially her father, played a huge role in what she became.
“I came home from college and my father was questioning some of my grades. I started giving him all kinds of excuses why I had not performed as expected. He looked me and said, ‘Darling, don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining’,” she recalled.
In the years that followed, Judge Judy became a corporate lawyer. She married and had two children, but never quit her career. She then continued working in family court, serving as a prosecutor for 10 years.
Her fierceness and knowledge were noticed by then-New York Mayor Ed Koch, who appointed her a criminal court judge. A few years later, she was promoted to a supervising family court judge.
One day in 1966, she welcomed 60 Minutes inside her court room and that was the start of one of the best TV shows there are, “Judge Judy.” It was on air for over 25 years. The show was canceled in 2020.
The audience fell for Judge Judy’s no-nonsense, wisecracking approach from day one, and her show grew in popularity with each episode.
“The People’s Court, they’ve had several judges. The Tonight Show has had several hosts. But I Love Lucy only had one Lucille Ball,” she explained.
“So, almost 20 years ago, I told the company that I worked for this: ‘I want to be more of a partner. Don’t treat me as a paid employee. I could make this show without you — I created a deal where I could do that — but you can’t make it without me.
“I can take Judy Sheindlin anywhere else. And good luck with you if you can find somebody else. Otherwise, let’s share the gift that this program has brought to both of us.’ I don’t think that there’s anything unreasonable about that,” Judge Judy added.
The show earned Judge Judy three Emmy Awards and a lot of money. According to New York Times, she earned $47 million from her salary alone in 2018. In total, Forbes has put her net worth at a staggering $445 million.
When the so-much-loved show came to an end, many were left saddened. But not the star of it. Speaking of the wrapping up of that period of her life, Judge Judy said, “I wasn’t teary. I felt gratified that I had completed that part of my journey and done it respectably. It was just the end of the day, the end of the job. I cleaned the bathroom, and the bathroom is sparkling.”
At the moment, she has other projects in mind, with her first one staring on November 1.
Judge Judy married her first husband, Ronald Lev, in 1964, but their marriage didn’t last long. She met her second husband, Jerry, who is the love of her life, during a court case. Later that day, they met again at a bar. Speaking to LA Times, Jerry recalled what happened when they came across one another again.
“There was a reporter from the New York Post there at the bar, and I was speaking to him about the case. Judy came walking in and put her finger in my face and said, ‘And who is this?’ I said, ‘Lady, get your finger out of my face.’ We’ve been together ever since.”
They both clicked right away and knew deep down that they were meant for each other. However, after Judy’s dad died, she filed for divorce. She simply couldn’t cope with the pain of losing the only man she could rely on.
“I was so sad when my father died, that an easier emotion for me to deal with was being angry at Jerry for not picking up the slack than dealing with the sadness of the loss,” she told Closer.
They both planned on moving on, but their love for one another was so strong, it couldn’t be ignored. So, they tied the knot for the second time and are still together, loving each other more and more every day.
“I just had to come to terms with the fact that men of that generation expect to be taken care of and catered to,” she added.
“I missed Jerry, I like to have someone to fuss over, I like to be mated. It’s natural for me,” she added.
“I learned the hard way that sometimes what you think makes you happy won’t. I just had to come to terms with the fact that men of that generation expect to be taken care of and catered to.”
In case you are wondering if this incredible woman is planning on slowing down, she’s not, despite being 78.
“I’m not tired. I don’t play golf or tennis, I have no desire to learn how to play mahjong, chess or checkers,” she told Hollywood Reporter. “I know what I like to do. Why, at my stage in life, would I try to find something else when I already know what I like?
“And this isn’t a 9-to-5 job. I’ve still got the time to see the children I love, the grandchildren who are growing up very fast and the cute mate who I still get a kick out of.”
We can’t wait to see her on screen again.