Judge Judith Sheindlin is a gavel-wielding legend of daytime television and a fateful letter changed everything for one of her co-stars.
In an interview with the New York Post, Petri Hawkins Byrd says he landed his spot on the show after faxing Judge Judy shortly after the show began in the 1990s. He had previously been assigned to Judge Judy's courtroom in the 1980s and faxed her a message when he read about her new TV show in a gossip column.
He ended the note with a message that would eventually lead him to reality TV fame on Judge Judy: "PS, if you ever need a bailiff, I still look good in uniform."
Sheindlin got back in touch and held him to his offer. She called him and said: "We do need a bailiff. We tried it with an actor during the pilot. It's an unscripted show and he didn't know how to manoeuvre with me," according to The Post.
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Byrd was working as a court officer at the time but his role on Judge Judy catapulted him to fame. In the US, over 9 million viewers tune in each day. While Byrd admitted he doesn't "do much", on the show, his role proved to be a hit with audiences. On the show, he calls cases and passes paperwork to Judge Judy.
The Judge says she values Byrd's contribution to the reality show. "Byrd and I have been in sync for 35 years. We get each other. It makes working together a joy," Sheindlin told the publication.
There have been past reports speculating that Byrd earns a whopping US $1 million a year on the show but Byrd denies these claims.
Judge Judy's 25th season will be its last, and Byrd says he is grateful for the show for opening up doors for him in the entertainment industry.
"It never really came to fruition until I wrote that fateful letter and answered that phone call that day from Judge Judy Sheindlin."