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25 Rich Facts About Beverly Hills, 90210

If you were alive during the 1990s, you probably watched at least one episode of Beverly Hills, 90210. A precursor to Gossip Girl, The O.C., and, well, 90210, the series—which ran for 10 seasons—depicted the not-always-so-fabulous lives of mostly fabulous teens living in the world’s most fabulous zip code. Throw on your babydoll dress, rev up your Bimmer, and take a ride behind-the-scenes of the definitive 1990s teen drama.

1. THE WALSHES DIDN'T LIVE IN BEVERLY HILLS.

Contrary to the show’s title, and its storyline, the Walsh family doesn’t move from Minneapolis to Beverly Hills—at least not judging by the exterior shots of their home. That house is located at 1675 East Altadena Drive in Altadena, California, about 30 miles away from Beverly Hills. But Altadena, 91001 just doesn’t have the same panache.

2. IT WAS INSPIRED BY JOHN HUGHES, AND THIRTYSOMETHING.

Beverly Hills, 90210 creator Darren Star was just 27 years old when Fox came to him and told him they wanted to create a series about teenagers in Beverly Hills, and already had Aaron Spelling signed on as producer. Star was interested, particularly if the series could focus on real issues facing teenagers. “The one show I really liked was Thirtysomething,” Star told The New York Times. “The issues were so small and particular to that group, and I wanted teenagers to examine their own navels, in a sense. It would be their point of view, like the John Hughes movies that were very popular at the time, like The Breakfast Club."

3. IAN ZIERING THOUGHT IT WAS ALL PRETTY SUPERFICIAL.

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Ian Ziering had moved back to his home state of New Jersey when he got the call about 90210—and had a very specific reaction to the script. “When I read the script for 90210, I thought, ‘Boy, this is very superficial,’ and it was,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I mean, the pilot was all about the glitz and the glamour of Beverly Hills, the obnoxious kids, and the fish-out-of-water story of Brenda and Brandon Walsh. I couldn’t discern from that first script that the show would become very issue-oriented.”

4. SHANNEN DOHERTY’S AUDITION WAS “HORRIBLE.” (IT DIDN’T SEEM TO MATTER.)

It didn’t take Shannen Doherty long to determine that, after reading for the part of Brenda Walsh, there was no way she’d be landing the role. “My audition was horrible,” she told The New York Times. “I actually remember walking out and saying: ‘I lost that job. I blew it.’ And the casting director came out and sort of winked at me and said, ‘I wouldn’t count yourself out yet, kiddo.’ And I was like, ‘O.K., whatever.’”

5. BRANDON WALSH WAS THE LAST ROLE CAST, AND JASON PRIESTLEY HAD A WEEKEND TO PREPARE.

If Jason Priestley seemed like a natural fit for the role of Brandon Walsh, it’s not because he had a lot of time to discover his character. “Everybody had been cast except for Brandon,” Priestley told The New York Times. “I read for Aaron on Thursday. I got the job Friday afternoon, and on Monday we started production.”

6. DYLAN MCKAY WASN’T INTENDED TO BE A RECURRING CHARACTER.

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Dylan McKay was originally written as a bit player with a story arc that would last just a few episodes. But Aaron Spelling was so pleased with Luke Perry’s performance that he decided to expand the part. “I was a guest star, and Aaron wanted to make me a regular,” Perry told The Hollywood Reporter. “The studio didn't want to pick up the deal, and he used that instance to illustrate an important principle: He gets to pick who's on the show. He didn't want me to have to go in the room with the network, but he calmly looked at me and said, ‘Go get 'em, kid.’” (It’s also worth noting that Perry initially auditioned for the role of Steve Sanders, which went to Ziering.)

7. ALLEGEDLY, NO ONE KNEW THAT TORI SPELLING WAS AARON’S DAUGHTER.

It’s long been rumored that the casting directors had no idea that Tori Spelling, who auditioned under another name, was Aaron’s daughter. But even Tori has admitted that there may have been some nepotism at play. I heard about the show from my agent,” the actress told Entertainment Weekly. “She said, ‘Your dad is doing it.’ I was like, ‘I haven’t heard anything about it.’ I popped into his briefcase when he got home, and I was like, cool. I really wanted to play Andrea. I went in under a different name, then I got the part of Donna—which I’m sure had something to do with my dad.”

8. AARON SPELLING KEPT A CLOSE EYE ON DONNA’S STORYLINES.

It’s probably no coincidence that Aaron Spelling’s daughter was the most naïve character in the crew, and that her commitment to abstinence was a major plot point throughout the series. “The thing that was always at play in the Donna story was that Donna was played by the daughter of Aaron Spelling,” writer/executive producer Larry Mollin told Vulture. “The minute we’d go in to pitch stories about an episode, he’d ask, ‘What’s Donna doing this week?’ Even though Donna wasn’t one of the main characters in the inner-circle—she was a supporting character, really, in the beginning—you always had to start what the episode was about with, ‘What was Donna doing?’ That’s what the old man wanted to hear. It was sweet. It was actually very endearing, his admiration for her. Tori was really out there. She was just enjoying herself. So even though the old man couldn’t control her, he could control Donna Martin.”

“Maybe at first [he was being protective],” Spelling said of Donna's virginity storyline. “I’m not sure. When I was first cast, Donna was a just a smaller side character. She was a friend of Kelly and Brenda’s. So there was never a discussion about her character staying a virgin. I think she stayed a virgin because once we established that she was a fan favorite, people really started relating to her. Teens constantly would approach me and tell me that they were virgins and they had times where they were scared that being a virgin would make them seem uncool, but then Donna made it okay.”

9. GABRIELLE CARTERIS LIED ABOUT HER AGE TO PLAY ANDREA.

Not many of the “teens” at the center of 90210 were actual teenagers. Gabrielle Carteris was the oldest cast member; she was 29 years old when she was cast as 16-year-old Andrea Zuckerman. Worried that she would be considered too old, she lied about her age. “They didn’t know, I lied,” Carteris later admitted. “I actually talked to a lawyer about how could I sign these contracts and lie about my age and still be able to do the show. ‘Is it OK?’ And, ‘Yes it is, as long as you just say you’re over 21.’” It was the press that eventually outed her. “Then a magazine—that I won’t say—did an interview on the show with somebody else and they went and asked my agent [my age], I said, ‘I don’t talk about my age,’ or whatever, they found it in the DMV, illegally. So, then they were printing it and I thought, ‘This is it! I’m gonna lose the job, there’s no way.’ By that time, the show had been on long enough, so it was OK.”

Ziering was just one year younger than Carteris; “I was 28 years old playing a 16-year-old,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I just kept my mouth shut. I never talked about it. And I wasn’t the oldest in the cast either. I just thought, if they’re going to buy, I’m going to sell it."

10. IT WASN’T AN IMMEDIATE HIT, BUT SUMMER EPISODES CHANGED THAT.

Beverly Hills, 90210 made its debut on October 4, 1990, but it was far from an overnight success. All that changed thanks to two key moves: a season one finale that saw Brenda lose her virginity to Dylan, and the decision to begin airing the show’s second season in the summer. “By the end of season two,” according to Entertainment Weekly, “90210 nearly double[d] its audience (from 9.5 to 17.4 million viewers), and [was] pulling in an astonishing 52 share of teen TV-watchers. Then came the hysterical fans, the mall riots, the action figures …”

11. THE SEASON ONE FINALE DIDN’T SIT WELL WITH FOX’S AFFILIATES.

About “Spring Dance,” that season one finale that saw Brenda and Dylan consummate their relationship? Well, it didn’t make everyone happy. “The affiliates were scandalized,” Star recalled to The New York Times. “Not because they had sex, but because Brenda was happy about it, and it didn’t have any dire consequences. I was strongly advised to write a show that would address the consequences of that sexual experience. So the first episode of the second season Brenda broke up with Dylan because their relationship had gotten too mature.”

12. JENNIE GARTH KNEW THE SHOW HAD HIT THE BIG TIME WHEN THEY RECEIVED A BOMB THREAT.

When discussing the show’s huge bump in popularity, Jennie Garth recalled how, “We got a bomb threat once. While we were filming a graduation scene, someone hid a bomb underneath the bleachers. It was like, ‘Ooh! We hit it big!’”

13. BEVERLY HILLS HIGH SCHOOL WANTED NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SHOW.

West Beverly High School is a fictional place; the series takes place there because Beverly Hills High School would not allow the production to use its name. Filming for the school-set scenes took place at Torrance High School, about 20 miles away. If the school looks familiar to you beyond the 90210 gang, that’s because it has made lots of film and television appearances over the years; She’s All That, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the 90210 reboot all shot there as well.

14. DONNA MARTIN WAS ORIGINALLY DONNA MORGAN.

“Donna Morgan Graduates?” Though Donna’s role grew as the show continued, it seems as if she wasn’t always Donna Martin. In a season one episode where she auditions to be the school’s resident DJ, her name is given as Donna Morgan. It must run in the family: also in the first season, her mother’s name was Nancy and she was played by Jordana Capra; in season two, her name was Felice and Katherine Cannon took over the role.

15. THOSE STUDENTS WEREN’T YELLING “DONNA MARTIN GRADUATES.”

Beverly Hills, 90210/Facebook

In his 2014 memoir, Jason Priestley: A Memoir, Priestley let his readers in on a little secret: During that famous protest in which Donna’s West Bev classmates face off against the administration to make sure that she receives her diploma right alongside them, they’re not actually yelling, “Donna Martin Graduates.” At the urging of Priestley, they were yelling, “Donna Martin Masturbates.” “I knew they were going to go back and reloop this dialogue anyway," Priestley explained, "so it was pretty irresistible.”

16. THERE WAS A LOT OF TENSION BEHIND THE SCENES.

It was hardly a secret that not everyone was BFFs behind the scenes. “There were times when it was worse than high school,” Garth told The New York Times. “The environment there was like: Are you kidding me? There was a lot of tension and unnecessary drama on the set, a certain amount of competition, and a certain—probably—anger about different salaries as the years progressed. People would find out how much someone was making, and then they’d be angry and want that, or if you got days off in your contract, they’d want that. Nobody was brave enough to step in and set us straight, and have a serious talk with us about it.”

17. THERE WAS PLENTY OF ROMANCE BEHIND THE SCENES, TOO.

According to Priestley, not all of the backstage antics were anger-driven. “Various combinations of people slept with each other over the years," he wrote in his memoir, noting that his own “first full-fledged adult relationship”—with Christine Elise, who played bad girl Emily Valentine—began on the show.

18. TIFFANI THIESSEN AND BRIAN AUSTIN GREEN WERE A REAL-LIFE COUPLE WHEN SHE WAS CAST AS VALERIE MALONE.

Beverly Hills, 90210/Facebook

In the fifth season, Tiffani Thiessen joined the cast as Valerie Malone, ostensibly replacing Shannen Doherty. At the time, Thiessen and Brian Austin Green were a real-life couple, which led to some awkward moments. In her first episode, she shared a kiss with Luke Perry. “That was probably the more awkward thing," Thiessen said. "Literally having your boyfriend on the show and then literally kissing another man, 'I get paid for this, honey. I don't know what to tell you.'"

19. THIESSEN HAD TO HAVE A HAND DOUBLE IN HER FIRST EPISODE.

Valerie Malone was immediately painted as the show’s “bad girl,” which was illustrated by her smoking a joint at Casa de Walsh. The role didn’t come all that naturally to Thiessen. “They wanted me to roll a joint with one hand so I looked like some kind of pro,” the actress told Entertainment Weekly. “I couldn’t do it. The person you see is actually somebody else’s hand rolling a joint.”

20. THERE WAS A NO SUNGLASSES RULE. AND HAIR COULD BE A PROBLEM FOR AARON SPELLING, TOO.

Apparently, few things ticked off Aaron Spelling more than a cast member coming back from a break with a new hairstyle. “If someone came back after hiatus with a completely different haircut, Aaron would go crazy,” Spelling’s publicist, Kevin Sasaki, told The Hollywood Reporter.

“Hair was very important to my dad,” Tori confirmed, adding, “And if you watch, there are never sunglasses on 90210. He'd always say, ‘Let them see it in your eyes before they hear it in your words.’ Luke Perry's famous squint was probably because my dad wouldn't let him wear sunglasses.”

21. HILARY SWANK WAS FIRED FROM THE SHOW.

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Today, Hilary Swank is known as a two-time Oscar winner. But from 1997 to 1998, she was known as Carly Reynolds, a single mom and Steve Sanders’s love interest during 90210’s eighth season. Though she was originally contracted for two years, she was fired after just 16 episodes—and, in a 2014 interview with Conan O’Brien, she admitted that she was “devastated” when she was let go. Of course, things turned out pretty well for Swank; shortly after losing the gig, she was cast as Brandon Teena in 1999’s Boys Don’t Cry, the role that netted her her first Oscar statuette.

22. IAN ZIERING ONCE TRASHED HIS DRESSING ROOM.

During the show’s fourth season, Ziering had a bit of a rock star-style breakdown. In an episode that saw him wrongly accused of rape, Ziering was given some serious material to work with while attempting to clear his good name. “But, they edited out so much powerful stuff,” Ziering said. “That was like the first time I really got some great words to say and I workshopped them and I studied. I brought game, and it never even made it through the edit.”

Feeling betrayed, “I tore the dressing rooms apart," Ziering admitted. "We all work so hard for our characters and to not even get a heads up ... I’m not a volatile person, I have a very long fuse, but after working so hard on this particular episode, I just didn’t feel like they were with me on this one.”

23. WHEN PRIESTLEY LEFT THE SHOW, IT WAS WITH ZERO FANFARE.

In addition to his starring role, Priestley also served as a producer and director on the series. But when he made the decision to leave toward the end of the show’s run, no one really acknowledged his departure. In an interview with The Guardian, Priestley was asked about his most memorable experience from working on the show. “When I left the show, it was so anticlimactic, it just left a bad taste in my mouth,” he said. "It was the fourth episode of the ninth season. I did the first scene of the morning—literally with this actor who was brought in to replace me—and that was it. I hugged the crew, picked up my box of stuff, went to my car and drove away. There was no party, no nothing. I felt like I'd wasted nine years of my life."

24. LUKE PERRY WAS TEAM BRANDON.

Beverly Hills, 90210/Facebook

Though they were best friends, Brandon and Dylan spent much of the series battling for Kelly Taylor’s affections. And while the end of the series saw Kelly attempting to reignite her relationship with Dylan, Luke Perry thinks that Brandon was the smarter choice. "My guy was a lot of things, [but] stable wasn't one of them," Perry told Bill Simmons."If you're looking out for her in the long term, which is what you wanna do, then you gotta do that thing and fall on the sword and let your best friend have her and that's what my guy would do."

25. THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF ITS 10-YEAR RUN, THE SHOW RECEIVED JUST ONE EMMY NOMINATION.

Firing a future Oscar winner may be one of Beverly Hills, 90210’s closest brushes with award recognition. Though it received four Golden Globe nominations during its run (two for Jason Priestley, two for Best Television Series – Drama), it only ever received one Emmy nomination: Milton Berle got a nod for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for the season five episode, “Sentenced To Life.”

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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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