SELLI had a fascinating tale to tell:
My Judge Wapner story is about a case that "The People's Court" reran for years. This neighborhood bar I used to frequent had this creep sued on the show. He vandalized another person's car outside the bar after an argument. The plaintiff had several witnesses. The defendant's defense was he was too drunk to remember doing it. Anyway, every time that episode ran the bar would get a message to turn on Judge Wapner. Everyone would hoot and holler as if was "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" [at a midnight screening]. It was better when the creep defendant was there for happy hour.
Agree with you about Judge Judy, and I particularly enjoyed your Wapner story; thanks much for detailing it.
While I always enjoyed Wapner's genial manner, I don't have much of a "People's Court" story to tell, other than this: During the first few seasons of the Trebek era, when I taped my (losing*) "Jeopardy!" appearance, the program was still years away from its current home over at Sony in Culver City, and instead at first was taped in a rented studio at Metromedia Square by the Hollywood Freeway, where "The People's Court" was also taped, at least in those days.
And while Wapner never removed his robe to hang with us on-deck contestants, next door trusty Rusty Burrell, Wapner's late showbiz bailiff--and maybe once one in real life as well, I'm betting--did emerge once in full uniform between tapings to mingle with us, as we were all bracing with our fateful encounters with those confounding "Jeopardy!" signaling devices**.
* But then seriously avenged in 1991 on "The Challengers with Dick Clark", when I enjoyed a five-appearance run and was invited back for their Tournament of Champions...only to have Clark cancel the syndicated quiz show before the tourney was held.
** Which, after all the successful seasons, Emmys and gazillions of bucks generated for Merv and company, you'd think they'd have tweaked by now. But no, not at all, according to the former contestants I've talked to.