TV pioneer, famed psychologist Joyce Brothers dies

Posted at 7:29 AM, May 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-14 09:29:38-04

By Steve Almasy


(CNN) — Joyce Brothers, who pioneered the television advice show and was called the mother of media psychology, has died, her daughter said Monday. She was 85.

“She passed away peacefully and in her home … with her family all around her,” Lisa Brothers Arbisser said.

Brothers, whose charming, reassuring demeanor appealed to television audiences, became a television star as a game show contestant, a sports interviewer, then as a psychologist answering audience questions about relationships and other emotional subjects.

She grew her fame as a frequent guest on television talk shows and as an advice columnist for Good Housekeeping magazine for four decades and for newspapers throughout the United States.

She also made many cameo appearances parodying herself on television sitcoms and in movies.

Dispensing advice on public airwaves didn’t please all of her colleagues. Some members of the American Psychological Association asked early in her media career that her membership be revoked because they didn’t think dispensing advice outside a one-on-one setting was appropriate.

Media psychology became part of the organization’s structure in 1986, according to the APA website.

Born Joyce Diane Bauer, she married Milton Brothers in 1949, according to a biography provided by her family. He died in 1989.

Brothers became a practicing psychologist in 1958, five years years after she got her masters at Columbia University.

By then, she had already caused a stir on television, winning the top prize on “The $64,000 Question” in 1955. The topic: boxing.

The family biography said she appeared on the show at a time when her husband was in medical school and they were living with her parents. Her husband suggested she tryout as a boxing expert, seeing that would make her an usual contestant — a woman versed in pugilism. When the show asked her to be on, she memorized the Encyclopedia of Boxing in a few weeks.

She repeated her success two years later on “The $64,000 Challenge,” leading to a job on “Sports Showcase.”

In 1958, she was the host of a self-titled show on local television that became so popular NBC syndicated the program nationally.

During the quiz show scandal of the late 1950s, she demonstrated her well-versed knowledge of boxing to a congressional panel, her family biography said.

She is survived by her sister, Elaine Goldsmith; her daughter; four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The family didn’t disclose the cause of her death, which happened in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Her funeral is scheduled for Tuesday at Riverside Memorial Chapel in New York.

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