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 TV and film personality, has died. She was 85.
Brothers died Monday of respiratory failure in New York City, according to her longtime Los Angeles-based publicist, Sanford Brokaw.
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.
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.
She also dispensed advice on several phone-in radio programs, sometimes going live. She was criticized by some for giving out advice without knowing her callers’ histories. But Brothers responded that she was not practicing therapy on the air and that she advised callers to seek professional help when needed. By 1985, the Association of Media Psychologists was created to monitor for abuses.
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.
Born Joyce Diane Bauer in New York, Brothers earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a doctorate in psychology from Columbia.
She is survived by sister Elaine Goldsmith, daughter Lisa Brothers Arbisser, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.