Joyce Brothers, the pop psychologist who pioneered the television advice show in the 1950s and enjoyed a long and prolific career as a syndicated columnist, author, and television and film personality, has died. She was 85.
Brothers first gained fame on a game show and went on to publish 15 books and make cameo appearances on popular shows including “Happy Days” and “The Simpsons.”
She visited Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show” nearly 100 times. She wrote numerous advice books, including “Ten Days To A Successful Memory” (1964), “Positive Plus: The Practical Plan for Liking Yourself Better” (1995) and “Widowed” (1992), a guide to dealing with grief written after the death of her husband in 1990.
Brothers earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia.
The way Brothers liked to tell it, her big break came about “because we were hungry.” To support her family, she won a chance at being a contestant on quiz show “The $64,000 Question” and became the only woman to win the show’s top prize.
Her celebrity opened up doors. In 1956, she became co-host of “Sports Showcast” and frequently appeared on talk shows.
Two years later, NBC offered her a trial on an afternoon television program in which she advised on love, marriage, sex and child-rearing. Its success led to a nationally telecast program, and subsequent late-night shows that addressed such taboo subjects as menopause, frigidity, impotence and sexual enjoyment.
For almost four decades, Brothers was a columnist for Good Housekeeping. She also wrote a daily syndicated advice column that appeared in more than 350 newspapers. Briefly, in 1961, she was host of her own television program.
Later, Brothers branched out into film, playing herself in more than a dozen movies, including “Analyze That” (2002), “Beethoven’s 4th” (2001), “Lover’s Knot” (1996) and “Dear God” (1996).
She was also an advocate for women. In the 1970s, Brothers called for changing textbooks to remove sexist bias, noting that nonsexist cultures tend to be less warlike.