America’s best-known pop psychologist from the 1960s has died at the age of 85.
Dr. Joyce Brothers gave advice on the radio and in newspapers and magazines, but it was her regular appearances on TV that made her a national celebrity. Chipmunk-cheeked with a pageboy haircut, Dr. Joyce Brothers really was a psychologist — she had a PhD. from Columbia — and her gentle manner and willingness to put up with sassy wags had audience appeal.
She was a frequent guest of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, and during the 1960s and ’70s she was a staple of television talk shows, usually talking about relationships and playing straight-man for the host’s jokes. On the radio, she offered common sense answers to callers, without the frank talk of Dr. Ruth or the tongue-lashing of Dr. Laura.
Over the years she even learned the fine art of poking fun at her own pop culture image, whether in movies (The Naked Gun) or on television (The Simpsons).
While working on her doctorate in psychology, she became the only woman champion of the game show The $64,000 Question, in 1955. She appeared as a contestant whose field of expertise was boxing. One story has it that the sponsors of the show suggested the topic, another story says she studied boxing to please her husband (a fan) and yet another has it that Joyce Brothers chose the topic herself, after noticing the show preferred contestants with an unexpected prowess.
Here she is on The $64,000 Question: