Joyce Brothers, psychologist and TV advice show pioneer, dies at 85

Published: Tuesday, May 14 2013 10:10 a.m. MDT

Wrote Fox, "If, in later, years, Dr. Brothers’s public image had acquired the faint aura of camp, it was leavened by her obvious awareness of that fact — and her corresponding ability to laugh at herself in public. (Who without such self-knowledge would have agreed, as she did, to appear on both ‘The David Frost Show’ and ‘The $1.98 Beauty Show,’ a late-’70s Chuck Barris game show-cum-parody?)

"But for the most part, Dr. Brothers displayed a far more serious side: More than once, she dissuaded suicidal callers to her radio show from ending their lives, keeping them on the line with encouraging talk until their phone numbers could be traced and help dispatched," the article said.

It was not always a smooth ride. Wrote CNN's Steve Almasy, "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." In 1986, media psychology became part of the APA's structure, he noted.

Brothers was born Joyce Diane Bauer on Oct. 27, 1927, in New York City. According to biographical data, she earned twin degrees in home economics and psychology from Cornell University, then earned a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University. Five years later, she started practicing psychology.

She was married to Milton Brothers, a physician, in 1949; he died in 1989. Lisa Arbisser was their only child. Brothers is also survived by a sister, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

EMAIL: lois@desnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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