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11 Actors Who Have Played The Doctor

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There have been many actors who have portrayed the Doctor in various settings, but eleven have been the official Doctors. We'll look at all of them here.

1. William Hartnell

Veteran character actor William Hartnell was born in 1908 to humble beginnings; his mother was unwed, he never knew his father, and his first career move was into petty crime. A boxing instructor got him started on horse racing, but he found his real passion when he got a job as a stagehand at the age of 18. He quickly got into acting, working constantly with only a break to serve in World War II in an armored regiment. He ended up typecast in comic tough-guy roles (you can see one of them in The Mouse That Roared), and when Verity Lambert offered him the part of a mysterious time traveler in an educational show aimed at children, he jumped at the part. He created a character who was highly intelligent but not always as wise as he thought himself, brilliant but forgetful, cantankerous but with a deep compassion under the surface. He enjoyed the role tremendously, but by 1966, his health was deteriorating due to arteriosclerosis and he had to quit. The producers came up with the idea of having his character transform into a new actor, and Hartnell suggested Patrick Troughton, who was approached and accepted the part. Hartnell reprised his role once more for the tenth anniversary special, "The Three Doctors," but his health had deteriorated more than the production crew realized and his part had to be rewritten to accommodate his capabilities; it was his final work as an actor, and he passed away in 1974 at the age of 67.

2. Patrick Troughton

Born in 1920, Patrick Troughton went directly into an acting career and was undergoing formal training in New York City when World War II broke out. He returned to England and joined the Navy, where he had a decorated career before returning to the theater, gaining a reputation as a reliable and versatile character actor. In 1953, he became the first person to play Robin Hood on television and found a succession of television, film, and radio roles afterward before Innes Lloyd, the new producer of Doctor Who, approached him in 1966 about succeeding William Hartnell in the title role. He ended up playing the role as what series creator Sydney Newman called a "cosmic hobo," inspired partly by silent film star Charlie Chaplin — brilliant, a bit egotistical, and also a bit of a comedian. He'd sometimes play the recorder, a significant change from the First Doctor, who had no apparent musical talent, and it was during this era that the sonic screwdriver was first seen. After three years, he decided to move on, although he returned three more times to reprise the role, in "The Three Doctors," "The Five Doctors," and "The Two Doctors." He returned to his work as a character actor after his time on Doctor Who, working hard despite doctors' advice due to major heart problems. In 1987, he defied doctor's orders to stay in the country and recuperate and went on one more convention tour. He died on March 27, 1987, in Columbus, Georgia. (I actually saw him once, and got his autograph, earlier in the same U.S. tour. He seemed in good health, but, well, he was a very good actor.) Acting was in his blood; several of his children and grandchildren have gone into acting. The youngest of these is Harry Melling, whom Harry Potter fans know as Dudley Dursley.

3. Jon Pertwee

Born in 1919, and thus actually a year older than the man he would replace, Jon Pertwee was born into a family that already had a lot of actors in it. Like the first two Doctors, he joined the military in World War II; although his service wasn't as distinguished as Troughton's, he did acquire an interesting souvenir: he woke up one morning after a drunken shore leave to find a tattoo on his arm, which made a brief appearance in his debut episode of Doctor Who. After the war, he became known as a comic actor on stage, television, and film. When he heard that the part of the Doctor had become available, he inquired and discovered he was already on the shortlist, and ultimately was cast. He played the character as an action hero with an almost James Bond flair, wearing opera capes and driving souped up cars (including the spaceship-like Whomobile, which actually belonged to Pertwee himself, built on commission by a custom car builder). After five seasons, he departed the role. His career didn't falter afterwards, and in 1979 he found his second children's TV role in Worzel Gummidge. He returned to the part of the Doctor for "The Five Doctors." Like Troughton before him, he kept up the convention circuit, meeting with his fans frequently, and he died of a heart attack in Connecticut on May 20, 1996.

(One odd coincidence—Pertwee's godfather was the actor Henry Ainley, whose son Anthony later took on the part of the Master, originated by Roger Delgado during Pertwee's tenure.)

4. Tom Baker

Born in 1934 to a Catholic working class family in Liverpool, Baker first tried a career as a monk, then joined the military, serving as an orderly in a military hospital, before settling on acting as his career. In the '60s, he was a part of the National Theatre company under Lawrence Olivier, and in 1971 broke into film as Rasputin in Nicholas and Alexandra. In 1974, producer Barry Letts cast him as the Doctor. His interpretation was as arrogant and egotistical as all his predecessors, and just as determined to do good, but more eccentric, often described as "bohemian." The Fourth Doctor is particularly famous for his ridiculously long scarf, which resulted from a miscommunication between costume designer James Acheson and the knitter hired to produce it; Acheson never specified a length, and bought far too much yarn, so the knitter just kept going until it was all used up. Baker performed the part for a record-breaking seven seasons before retiring from it. After leaving, he had a brief marriage to costar Lalla Ward (the Second Romana), but it fell apart when both realized they'd really fallen in love with the other one's character, not the actor—an occupational hazard, unfortunately—and they parted amicably. He continued working on stage and screen, and is still active.

5. Peter Davison

Born Peter Moffett in 1951 (he chose the stage name "Davison" because there was already a Peter Moffatt on the English stage), Davison began work at Nottingham Playhouse and got into television in 1975 alongside the woman who would become his wife, Sandra Dickinson. (Sci-fi fans will remember her as Trillian in the BBC TV miniseries version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; it was her idea to get Davison into a big rubber suit to play the Dish of the Day in the same series.) But his first really big break was the role of Tristan Farnon, a young country veterinarian, in All Creatures Great and Small. In 1981, he got his next big break when he was signed on to succeed Tom Baker as the Doctor. Only 29 at the time, he was the youngest to play the role until Matt Smith in 2010. His Doctor had his little quirks, but was much less eccentric than his predecessor, save for a stick of celery he wore on his lapel and a preference for cricket attire. He left after three seasons. He returned for non-canon productions and the very short charity special "Time Crash," opposite David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, the only "classic" Doctor to appear on the new series. After Doctor Who, he starred in A Very Peculiar Practice, Campion, and a revival of All Creatures Great and Small, as well as an assortment of other roles; he is still acting. His daughter from his first marriage, Georgia Moffett, later appeared on Doctor Who as well, the first child of a Doctor to appear on the show, in "The Doctor's Daughter" as, well, the Doctor's sort-of daughter. And that led, in a roundabout way, to Peter Davison becoming David Tennant's father-in-law, but more on that later...

6. Colin Baker

Born in 1943 (and of no relation to Tom Baker), Colin Baker initially studied law with the intention of becoming a solicitor, but at 23, found a different calling and became an actor. He had a smattering of television roles before appearing on Doctor Who in 1983 as Commander Maxil, commander of the chancellory guards on Gallifrey in "The Arc of Infinity." This got him onto producer John Nathan-Turner's radar, and he was cast as the Sixth Doctor after Peter Davison's departure. His tenure as the Doctor was a difficult one, marred by the battle of the production team with BBC leadership who hoped to see the series die. His costume was wildly garish, and he even attempted to kill his own companion in a fit of madness. But Baker put everything into the part and, although fans are mixed in their opinion of his Doctor, it cannot be denied that he threw himself into it, creating a Doctor who underwent a substantial amount of character development in two seasons. Unfortunately, the BBC1 Controller, Michael Grade, had never been a fan of the program and, after the troubled season 23, "Trial of a Time Lord," Colin Baker was fired despite having a full series left in his contract. He remains enthusiastic about the series despite that, however, and has lent his talents to numerous fan-made and non-canon productions. Following his time on Doctor Who, he moved primarily into theater, but still does occasional film and television work as well.

7. Sylvester McCoy

Born Percy James Patrick Kent-Smith in Dunoon, Scotland, in 1943, Sylvester McCoy would become the first non-English actor to play the part. (To date, there has been only one other: Scottish actor David Tennant.) He never knew his father, who died in World War II shortly before he was born, and he was raised in Dublin, Ireland. He tried a variety of careers before joining a comedy/vaudeville act called "The Ken Campbell Roadshow." One of the parts he played was a fictitious stuntman named Sylveste McCoy; confused reviewers thought it was his actual name, and he eventually adopted it as a stage name (adding an "r" to the first name to make it look better). In 1987, Doctor Who came out of a year-long hiatus following the firing of Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy was cast as the Seventh Doctor. His performance was evocative of the Second Doctor, and clearly informed by his comedy background, but in his second season became increasingly dark. The series was indefinitely suspended in 1989, ending the bulk of his tenure, although he returned for the American-produced Doctor Who movie in 1996, to film a regeneration scene to transition to Paul McGann. Following his work on Doctor Who, he worked extensively in theater and radio; he was nearly Governor Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean and even more nearly Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. He recently traveled to New Zealand to film the part of Radagast the Brown for The Hobbit.

8. Paul McGann

Born in Liverpool in 1959, Paul McGann would ultimately have the shortest tenure as Doctor. He was born to a large family, and all four of the McGann boys went into acting. He played a series of roles on television before landing one of the two title roles in Withnail and I, playing Peter Marwood, the "I" of the title who is never named in the movie itself. He performed in a number of films after that, including American films, and was cast as Richard Sharpe, but a football injury just after filming started meant the number two, Sean Bean, got the part instead, and McGann ultimately walked away with a two million pound insurance settlement to compensate for the lost work and career advancement. In 1996, he was cast in an attempted revival of Doctor Who, filmed largely in Vancouver, British Columbia, and set in San Francisco, which was intended as a "back door pilot." It received very good ratings in the UK, but failed to interest US studios. That was the end of that effort, but Paul McGann went on to pursue a respectable film and television career. Recently, he has recorded audio plays featuring the Eighth Doctor — the BBC does not consider these plays canon — including a "do-over" of "Shada," a story written and partially recorded for the Fourth Doctor's tenure, but that was left uncompleted due to industrial action.

9. Christopher Eccleston

Born in 1964 to a working class family in Manchester, Eccleston pursued an acting career right out of school. He broke into film and television in the early '90s, keeping very busy and receiving multiple awards for his work in television before producer Russell T. Davies cast him as the Ninth Doctor in a newly revived Doctor Who. He played the part in more ordinary dress than his predecessors and with his natural Northern accent. Eccleston was the first Doctor younger than the series itself (by a few months) and the first other than Hartnell to have never seen it prior to being cast. He studied "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" (a Fourth Doctor serial), which was then newly released on DVD, as preparation, and came up with a Doctor who was every bit as egotistical as his predecessors, mischievous and impulsive, but also shadowed with massive grief—sometime in the untransmitted interim, his race had gone to war with the Daleks, and he was now the only Time Lord left. He was also in some way responsible for the fact that the Time Lords were now extinct. He was only contracted for one season, due to uncertainty whether the BBC would even be interested in commissioning a second season; miscommunications with the BBC marred his departure, as he was mistakenly reported to have quit due to issues with the crew when, in fact, it had been planned that way from the outset. He resumed his intense schedule after Doctor Who and, in 2011, earned the International Emmy Best Actor award for his role in Accursed.

10. David Tennant

David McDonald was born in 1971 in West Lothian, Scotland, later taking the name David Tennant as his given name was already in use by another performer. He was a born Whovian, and at the age of three announced his intention to go into acting because of it. A precocious actor, he managed to enter the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama at 16. He performed a variety of roles, including many with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and began breaking into television in the 2000s. In 2005, he appeared in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as Barty Crouch, Jr., and appeased his inner Whovian by appearing in the Big Finish audio productions that sort of worked around the edges of Doctor Who continuity and in the abortive attempt at an online animated series, The Scream of the Shalka. He achieved his lifelong dream in 2005 when he was cast as the Tenth Doctor. He elected not to use his natural Scots accent for the part, affecting an Estuary accent, and played it a more confident and more vengeful Doctor than Eccleston. During his first season, he became the first Doctor to appear with someone from the classic series, when Elizabeth Sladen reprised her role as Sarah Jane Smith in "School Reunion." That prompted a spinoff series called The Sarah Jane Adventures, and he appeared in an episode of Season Three of that show. He also provided voice work for two animated series, The Infinite Quest and Dreamland (the latter of which was referenced twice on The Sarah Jane Adventures). After three full seasons and a series of one-off specials in 2009, Tennant left the series, saying that he had to leave while he still could; any later and he wouldn't be able to bring himself to quit. After leaving the series, he became engaged to actress Georgia Moffett, Peter Davison's daughter. The two have since married and have a daughter together.

11. Matt Smith

Born in 1982 in Northhampton, Matt Smith initially dreamed of becoming a professional football player. ("Soccer" to us Yanks, of course.) A back injury put a stop to that, and his drama instructor at school pushed him into acting. He began to study drama and creative writing. He appeared in a variety of stage and television roles, but it was a complete surprise to most when he was cast as the Eleventh Doctor, the youngest ever to take the part. Producer Steven Moffatt had been going for someone in his mid-40s, but was particularly taken by Smith's oddball demeanor and ability to look very old indeed. His Doctor was played as an absent-minded professor, complete with tweed jacket and bowtie (which he obliviously insists is cool), with a sometimes mercurial disposition. He has also appeared on The Sarah Jane Adventures and has provided voice work for a series of video games. He has been signed for an additional 14 episodes, so will be the Doctor for at least three seasons. Like Eccleston, Smith was largely unfamiliar with the series before accepting the role, but he had an excuse—he was only seven when the series went on hiatus. (And now some of us can start feeling old!)

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30 Memorable Quotes from Carrie Fisher
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Just days after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight en route to Los Angeles, beloved actress, author, and screenwriter Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60 on December 27, 2016. Though she’ll always be most closely associated with her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, Fisher’s life was like something out of its own Hollywood movie. Born in Beverly Hills on this day in 1956, Fisher was born into show business royalty as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds.

In addition to her work in front of the camera, Fisher built up an impressive resume behind the scenes, too, most notably as a writer; in addition to several memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels, including Wishful Drinking, Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful, Postcards from the Edge, and The Princess Diarist (which was released last month), she was also an in-demand script doctor who counted Sister Act, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer among her credits.

Though she struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness, Fisher always maintained a sense of humor—as evidenced by the 30 memorable quotes below.

ON GROWING UP IN HOLLYWOOD

“I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.”

“I was born into big celebrity. It could only diminish.”

“At a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

“I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive.”

“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That's my word for it.”

ON AGING

“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don't.”

ON INSTANT GRATIFICATION

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

ON THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS

“People are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big of a hit. Yes, we all knew. The only one who didn't know was George.”

“Leia follows me like a vague smell.”

“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to send Lucas a couple of bucks.”

“People see me and they squeal like tropical birds or seals stranded on the beach.”

“You're not really famous until you’re a Pez dispenser.”

ON THE FLEETING NATURE OF SUCCESS

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

ON DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

“I'm very sane about how crazy I am.”

ON RESENTMENT

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

ON LOVE

“Someone has to stand still for you to love them. My choices are always on the run.”

“I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience, and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.”

“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed or it should have a capital and its own currency.”

ON EMOTIONS

“The only thing worse than being hurt is everyone knowing that you're hurt.”

ON RELATIONSHIPS

“I envy people who have the capacity to sit with another human being and find them endlessly interesting, I would rather watch TV. Of course this becomes eventually known to the other person.”

ON HOLLYWOOD

“Acting engenders and harbors qualities that are best left way behind in adolescence.”

“You can't find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.”

“It's a man's world and show business is a man's meal, with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.”

ON FEAR

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

ON LIFE

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”

“No motive is pure. No one is good or bad-but a hearty mix of both. And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away.”

“If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”

“I shot through my twenties like a luminous thread through a dark needle, blazing toward my destination: Nowhere.”

“My life is like a lone, forgotten Q-Tip in the second-to-last drawer.”

ON DEATH

“You know what's funny about death? I mean other than absolutely nothing at all? You'd think we could remember finding out we weren't immortal. Sometimes I see children sobbing at airports and I think, 'Aww. They've just been told.'”

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12 Admissible Facts About Judge Judy
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Judge Judith Sheindlin was 54 years old when her namesake TV show premiered on September 16, 1996. Two years later the diminutive (5’1”) adjudicator was trouncing the powerhouse Oprah Winfrey Show in the Nielsen ratings. Today, she is one of the highest paid TV celebrities, earning $47 million per year—which she will continue to do through 2020, thanks to a new extended contract.

Fervent fans are familiar with Judge Judy’s more outrageous cases, like The Tupperware Lady and the eBay Cell Phone Scammer, but they might not know some of these fun facts about both the show and the woman behind it, who turns 75 years old today.

1. THAT GRUFF, NO-NONSENSE STYLE OF JURISPRUDENCE IS NOT AN ACT.

Judge Judy spent a little over 20 years in New York City’s family court system, where she earned a reputation early in her career for being blunt, impatient, and tough-talking. “I can’t stand stupid, and I can’t stand slow,” was one of her oft-repeated “Judyisms” at that time. She also frequently warned attorneys appearing before her: "I want first-time offenders to think of their appearance in my courtroom as the second-worst experience of their lives ... circumcision being the first." 60 Minutes filmed her in action as part of a 1993 profile, and while her hair color and eyebrows have softened since then, her impatient rants and verbal smackdowns haven’t changed a bit.

2. SHE BEGAN WEARING HER TRADEMARK LACE COLLAR AS SOON AS SHE WAS APPOINTED AS A JUDGE.

New York City Mayor Ed Koch appointed Judith Sheindlin to the bench in 1982, and to celebrate she and her husband Jerry—both civil servants at the time—took a $399 package trip to Greece for two weeks. While passing by a row of street kiosks with various locally made crafts for sale, she impulsively purchased a white lace collar from a vendor. She explained to her husband that male judges wore stiff-collared white dress shirts and colorful neckties that peeped out of the top of their robes, so that they had a nice colorful “buffer” between the austere black gown and their face. Female judges, however, had nothing but neck peeping out of their robes and the unforgiving black color revealed every minute of sleep deprivation as well as any skin tone irregularities. The white lace collar, she decided, would not only perk up her face but would also be a bit disarming for litigants—she could picture them thinking “That nice little lady with the lace collar sitting behind the bench couldn’t hurt a fly!”

3. DESPITE THOSE NEW YORK CITY SCENES ON THE COMMERCIAL BUMPERS, JUDGE JUDY IS TAPED IN CALIFORNIA.

Sheindlin spends 52 days per year taping her show. She flies to California via private jet every other Monday and hears cases on Tuesday and Wednesday (occasionally Thursday if there are production delays). One full week’s worth of shows are filmed each day. Many viewers, however, are fooled into thinking Judy is holding court in her native New York, thanks to the scenic Manhattan footage in between station breaks and the New York state flag behind her chair. That is, until something oh-so-unique to the west coast—like an earthquake—occurs on-camera. (Note that in the clip below, Judge Judy quickly ducks beneath her bench once the room begins to tremble.)

4. SHE IS BRIEFED ON THE CASES BEFORE SHE ARRIVES ON THE SET.

Judge Sheindlin does not go to the studio unprepared; producers FedEx the sworn statements and relevant information on each upcoming case to her home (Naples, Florida in the winter; Greenwich, Connecticut in the spring and summer) and she familiarizes herself with enough details to have some background, but not enough so that the case doesn’t appear “fresh” when she questions the litigants during filming.

5. THE CASES REALLY ARE REAL.

The production company has a staff of 60-plus researchers across the country who spend their days poring over lawsuits filed in local small claims courts. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, they are able to photocopy cases that they think might make for interesting television and those copies are forwarded to the show’s producers. Any cases that make it to the next stage (about three percent) involve contacting the litigants involved and asking them if they’d like to forego their civil court hearing in exchange for a free trip to Los Angeles, an $850 appearance fee, and a per diem of $40 (as of 2012). An added incentive is that any judgments awarded are paid by the show, not by the plaintiff or defendant. The best cases, according to the executive producer, are those that involve litigants with a prior relationship—mother/daughter, father/son, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. Such cases engage the audience because it’s an emotional tie that’s been broken (the recurring plot on many soap operas).

6. THE AUDIENCE, HOWEVER, IS NOT SO REAL.

Regular viewers will note that the same faces seem to pop up in the audience regularly. Those folks in the spectator seats are paid extras (often aspiring actors) who earn $8 per hour to sit and look attentive. Prospective audience members apply for the limited amount of seats by emailing their contact information along with a clear headshot to one of Judge Judy’s production coordinators (sorry, we cannot provide that info). If chosen, the spectator must dress appropriately (business casual or better) and arrive promptly for the 8:30 a.m. call time. Audience members must pass through metal detectors on their way in and are not allowed to bring cell phones or any electronic devices with them, and food, drinks and chewing gum are also verboten. Spectators are rearranged after each case so it’s not as obvious that it’s the same group of people, and the most attractive folks are always seated in the front row (it’s Hollywood, after all). The audience is instructed to talk animatedly amongst themselves in between each case so that Officer Byrd’s “Order in the court!” admonition has more impact. Bad behavior is grounds for immediate expulsion (in front of 10 million viewers, as Judge Judy likes to remind us).

7. JUDGE JUDY DRESSES CASUALLY FOR THE JOB.

Sheindlin has been known to publicly chastise litigants who come to her courtroom in skimpy clothing or “beach attire,” but behind that bench and under that robe she is usually sporting jeans and a tank top or T-shirt.

8. OFFICER BYRD IS A REAL BAILIFF.

Brooklyn native Petri Hawkins Byrd earned his B.Sc. degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1989 and started working in the Brooklyn Family Court system. He first worked with Judge Sheindlin when he transferred to the Manhattan Family Court. “We [the court officers] used to call her the Joan Rivers of the judicial system,” he recalled in a 2004 interview. “She was just hilarious.” Byrd relocated to San Mateo, California in 1990 to work as a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal and a few years later he read an item in Liz Smith’s gossip column about Sheindlin’s upcoming TV show. He sent his old colleague a congratulatory letter and added, “If you need a bailiff, I still look good in uniform.”

9. DESPITE HIS SOMETIMES IMPOSING COURTROOM DEMEANOR, OFFICER BYRD IS ALSO A VERY FUNNY GUY.

He is a talented impressionist, but his sense of humor almost cost him his job—or so he thought at the time. Once, back when he was working with the feisty Judge Sheindlin in New York, he donned her robe and reading glasses to entertain his co-workers with a barrage of Judyisms. Of course, as always seems to happen when one mocks the boss in the workplace, he was caught in the act.

10. THE OCCASIONAL CELEBRITY RELIES ON JUDGE JUDY’S BRAND OF JUSTICE.

Depending upon your own definition of “celebrity”, of course. Actress Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero on Happy Days) appeared on the show in 1996 as the plaintiff, suing her plastic surgeon for a leaky breast implant that was impeding her acting career. One year later, former Sex Pistol John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) appeared as a defendant when drummer Robert Williams, who was hired to support Lydon on a solo tour, sued the singer for lost wages and an assault. Despite Lydon’s occasional bad courtroom behavior, the decision was made in his favor.

11. THE STAR ORIGINALLY DIDN’T WANT THE SHOW NAMED AFTER HER.

Sheindlin first envisioned calling her show Hot Bench, a term used frequently in the appellate court, but the producers wisely advised her that the term was meaningless to TV viewers who didn’t work in the legal system. Her next thought was Judy Justice, since she’d overheard her court officers warning deadbeat parents who were delinquent in child support payments that they were in for a load of "Judy Justice" if they weren’t prepared to cough up some money. In retrospect, Sheindlin realized the wisdom in calling the show Judge Judy: She couldn’t be easily replaced, as the various judges had been on The People’s Court. However, after 19 years on the air, she still does not refer to herself by that sobriquet; whether introducing herself to someone or advertising her show in a promotional clip, she is always either “Judge Sheindlin” or “Judge Judy Sheindlin.”

12. JUDGE SHEINDLIN INHERITED HER SENSE OF HUMOR FROM HER FATHER.

Murray Blum, Judy’s beloved father, was a dentist whose office was in the family home. In those days—before sedation dentistry was an option—a dentist’s best tool to distract nervous patients was the gift of gab, and Murray became a master storyteller out of necessity. Years of listening to her father at the dinner table and at family gatherings taught Judy how to deliver a punchline. One evening outside of a hotel in Hollywood, Sheindlin was approached by a woman who introduced herself as Lorna Berle. She told the judge that her husband Milton was a huge fan and asked if she would mind talking to him for a moment. The elderly comic slowly emerged from a limo and Judy greeted him by singing the theme song to Texaco Star Theater, her favorite TV show as a child. Milton Berle complimented her in return, saying “Kid, you’ve got great comic timing.”

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