Dr. Joyce Brothers, the popular psychologist and advice columnist, died Monday in New York City. She was 85 years old.
Brothers’ publicist, Sanford Brokaw, said she died of natural causes.
Brothers was a pioneer of the television advice show, first rising to fame as a winning contestant on The 64,000 Question in 1955. She appeared as an expert on boxing, although it wasn’t her original intention. The program’s sponsors suggested it, and Brothers agreed. According to the Associated Press, she was the only woman to ever claim the top prize.
However, because of a cheating scandal on the quiz show Twenty One, allegations surfaced that such shows were rigged, and some questioned whether the show’s producers slipped Brothers the answers. She insisted that she never cheated, and investigations proved that she won the competition honestly.
Due to her success on The $64,000 Question, Brothers was asked to be a color commentator during the boxing match between Carmen Basilio and Sugar Ray Robinson, which was broadcast on CBS. She is the first woman ever to become a boxing commentator.
In 1958, Brothers became a licensed psychologist and landed her own TV show on a New York station. She answered questions from the audience, giving advice about relationships. She claimed she was the first television psychologist, telling The Washington Post in 1989, “I invented media psychology. I was the first. The founding mother.”
Brothers went on to host syndicated advice columns on radio and TV. She also had her own monthly column in Good Housekeeping for nearly four decades, as well as a syndicated newspaper column she began writing in the ’70s.
Brothers’ television appearances weren’t limited to her own shows. She appeared on a number of shows, including Saturday Night Live, The Nanny, Frasier, My Two Dads, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, andMelrose Place. She also had a cameo appearance in Naked Guns and other films.
Born Joyce Diane Bauer on October 20, 1927 in New York City, Dr. Joyce Brothers completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University before earning her Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University. She married Milton Brothers, an internist, in 1949, and the two had a daughter, Lisa. Milton Brothers died 40 years later from cancer.