Her TV persona is of a no-nonsense, straight-talking grandma, and it turns out Judge Judy Shiendlin is no different in real life.
The 74-year-old TV star and multi-millionaire has revealed how she made short shrift of both her first and second husbands when they tried to treat her like a second-class citizen.
Talking on Fox New’s new show OBJECTified, which premieres on Sunday, Shiendlin tells how she became bored with being a mother and wife, so followed up the legal studies she had done before getting married.
“It was time for me to get married, I was 20, 21. So I became a mum. But I was bored, from not being engaged outside the home,” she said of her decision to go to work as a prosecutor in the family court system. “My first husband is a lovely, lovely man but he always viewed my job as a hobby and there came a time where I resented that.”
The couple, who had two children, divorced in 1976, and the next year, Shiendlin married her second husband, Jerry, a fellow lawyer. But after 14 years of marriage, she became tired of catering to his needs, she admits. They divorced, but remarried again after a year apart and are still together now.
“I just had to come to terms with the fact that men of that generation are different,” she tells OBJECTified host Harvey Levin. “They expect, even if they have no right, to be taken care of and catered too … I missed him, I missed him, and I really found out … most men are alike.”
That Judge Judy caters to any man’s whims is difficult to believe, given that she is one of the most powerful women in television, able to command any salary she likes due to the huge success of her eponymous show, which has been running for 21 years.
She earns a reported US$47 million (A$59 million) a year as the star of Judge Judy, and remains immensely popular, with a 2013 Reader’s Digest poll finding that Americans trusted Judge Judy more than they trusted the nine justices of the US Supreme Court.
Despite her success in what are often the male-dominate worlds of law and television, though, Shiendlin tells Levin that she’s a feminist – possibly because she already vastly out-earns most men.
“I actually don’t know what that means,” she says. “Do I want equal pay with men? Absolutely not!”