Joyce Brothers

Joyce Brothers Biography

Journalist, Talk Show Host, Psychologist, Radio Personality (1927–2013)
Dr. Joyce Brothers was a famous psychologist and multimedia personality known for dispensing frank advice on relationships, intimacy, sexuality and self-worth.


Born on October 29, 1927, Dr. Joyce Brothers earned her Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University and went on to win the game show The $64,000 Question. Brothers became a famous television and radio personality, dispensing on-air advice as a professional psychologist, and made many series and film appearances throughout her career while writing ten books. She died on May 13, 2013.


Dr. Joyce Brothers was born Joyce Diane Bauer in New York City on October 29, 1927. Her parents were attorneys who had a practice together, and Bauer eventually attended Cornell University, graduating by the age of 19. By 1953, she'd earned her Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University.

Game-Show Boxing Expert

She wed Milton Brothers in 1949, and upon the birth of their daughter, the young mother gave up her university teaching posts to stay home. With the family struggling financially, relying only upon Milton's income as a medical resident, Brothers embarked on a TV career by becoming a contestant on the game show The $64,000 Question in 1955. Though initially applying to the program as a psychology expert, she was instead positioned to be an expert on boxing. Brothers proceeded to develop an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport and went on to win to the top prize of the game, becoming the only woman to do so. She followed up successfully as a contestant on The $64,000 Challenge.

When accusations of game-show rigging came up in relation to Question, both Brothers and producers stated that she was innocent of any wrongdoing. In fact, Brothers asserted that producers had tried to get her off the program due to pressure from the head of Revlon, as she wore no makeup. Still, she was unable to be eliminated as she knew the answers to the difficult questions thrown her way.

Famous On-Air Personality

After her game-show wins, Brothers became a famous TV personality, co-hosting a sports program and then hosting her very own series, The Dr. Joyce Brothers Show, in 1958. On the series, she talked about parenting, marital issues, intimacy and sexuality at a time when such topics were generally not discussed openly in U.S. culture. The show eventually moved to a late-night time slot and ran until 1963, with Brothers doing call-in radio work as well. Brothers is credited with bringing to mass media audiences important psychological concepts, while also facing criticism from some channels for dispensing advice in such a format.

Columns, TV Shows, Books and Film

In addition to her TV offerings, which also included the shows Tell Me, Dr. Brothers, Ask Dr. Brothers and Living Easy, Dr. Brothers had a syndicated newspaper column that ran in hundreds of publications and a long-running column with Good Housekeeping magazine. She also made guest appearances on many TV series, including Taxi, The Love Boat, Ally Mcbeal, Night Court and Suddenly Susan, and was noted for having guested dozens of times on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Her film appearances included The King of Comedy (1983) and The Naked Gun (1988).

Additionally, Brothers authored 10 books, with titles including Better Than Ever (1976), What Every Woman Ought to Know About Love and Marriage (1984) and the partial memoir Widowed (1990).

Brothers received accolades and awards from a variety of institutions and organizations, including the American Psychological Association. She died on May 13, 2013, at the age of 85, in Fort Lee, New Jersey. She was survived by her daughter, Lisa Brothers Arbisser, and her younger sister, Elaine Goldsmith, along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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