Joyce Brothers, who became famous in the ’50s for her rise to stardom via a call-in radio program, has died of respiratory failure. She was 85 years old.
Brothers was a wife and stay-at-home mom in the mid-1950’s and believed that being home with her child was the best way to parent. However, the hard reality soon set in that her husband, who was a fresh med-school graduate, couldn’t support them on his residency income. On a whim, Brothers decided to try her luck as a quiz show contestant. After memorizing 20 volumes of an encyclopedia set, she made her way onto “$64,000 Challenge” and stunned everyone when she became the first female to win the big cash prize.
She found herself mixed up in a scandal, though, when the show’s producers were accused of giving the answers away to particular contestants. Brothers denied being involved in any cheating and was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing. But the scandal may have been the very thing to open doors for her; she was eventually offered a job as a sports interviewer, which led to appearances on talk shows, and in 1958 landed a job with an NBC show giving out advice to women on topics such as menopause and sex. She would go on to become one of the most highly sought-after psychologists of the day after hosting on a call-in radio show which dispensed a form of therapy to those in need.
Although her methods were criticized, Brothers insisted she was just doling out common sense.
“I don’t give advice. I just tell people, ‘This is what we know.’ ” she once said.
Brothers had her own advice column for over forty years in Good Housekeeping and kept up her celebrity through the ’80s and ’90s by appearing on sitcoms and talk shows. She was also the author of several books, including “Ten Days To A Successful Memory” (1964), “Positive Plus: The Practical Plan for Liking Yourself Better” (1995) and “Widowed” (1992).