Joyce Brothers, Jewish TV Psychologist and Advice Columnist, Dies at 85

Television Pioneer Dies Just Months After Dear Abby

Queen of Advice: Joyce Brothers, the Jewish television psychologist, was famous for winning ‘The $64,000 Question’ game show.
Queen of Advice: Joyce Brothers, the Jewish television psychologist, was famous for winning ‘The $64,000 Question’ game show.

By Reuters

Published May 13, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

Psychologist Joyce Brothers, who parlayed her 1955 victory on the TV game show “The $64,000 Question” into a nearly six-decade career as a television personality and columnist, died on Monday, her publicist said. She was 85.

Brothers died of natural causes in New York, said Sanford Brokaw, her Los Angeles-based spokesman.

She began dispensing advice on television in 1958 and penned columns on topics such as sex, relationships and parenting until early this year.

At one point, Brothers’ syndicated column was published in more than 300 newspapers and she authored a monthly column in the women’s magazine Good Housekeeping.

Brothers, a forerunner of media-savvy psychologists such as Laura Schlessinger and Phil McGraw, was a fixture in American living rooms in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s with her own syndicated television programs on networks NBC and CBS and cameo appearances in films and TV series.

She famously poked fun at herself by analyzing the Fonz’s dog on the ABC television series “Happy Days.” Brothers also appeared on “The Love Boat,” animated comedy “The Simpsons” and most recently on the Hollywood comedy series “Entourage.”

Brothers was also a fixture on “The Tonight Show,” appearing alongside host Johnny Carson nearly 100 times.

Brothers vaulted to public recognition by winning “The $64,000 Question,” the most popular television game show of the era, and with her prodigious knowledge of boxing. She followed up her win with another on the spin-off game show “The $64,000 Challenge.”

She also successfully parried questions from Congress during investigations into a game-show cheating scandal, showing her original mastery of boxing information.

Brothers is thought to be the sport’s first female commentator and her first media contract was interviewing boxers for radio broadcasts.

She also fought off criticism from professionals in her field early in her career after colleagues sought to have her American Psychological Association membership revoked for practicing outside of a private setting.

Brothers published about 15 books, including 1987’s “What Every Woman Should Know About Men” and 1992’s “Widowed,” which was inspired by her husband’s death in 1989.

Brothers was born on Oct. 20, 1927, in the Rockaways section of Queens in New York. She daughter of Estelle (née Rapaport) and Morris K. Bauer, both of whom were Jewish lawyers and had a practice together.

She married physician Milton Brothers in 1949.

She earned degrees in home economics and psychology at Cornell University and a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University.

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


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.