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October 20: Dr. Joyce Brothers

October 20, 2013

Joyce Brothers In A CBS 'Bicentennial Minute'America’s first media psychologist, Dr. Joyce Brothers (née Bauer), was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1927. She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1952, and became nationally known three years later by becoming the only woman to win the top prize on television’s $64,000 Question quiz show. Brothers wrote a daily newspaper advice column for more than half a century, from 1960 until her death in 2013, as well as a monthly column in Good Housekeeping for nearly forty years. She was also the first television personality to dispense psychological advice, as the host of a series of talk shows beginning in 1958. In 1964, Brothers interviewed and posed for publicity photographs with the Beatles on their first American tour. A media-savvy woman with a fantastic memory, she “arrived in the American consciousness (or, more precisely, the American unconscious) at a serendipitous time,” wrote Margalit Fox in the New York Times obituary, “the exact historical moment when Cold War anxiety, a greater acceptance of talk therapy, and the widespread ownership of television sets converged. Looking crisply capable yet eminently approachable in her pastel suits and pale blond pageboy, she offered gentle, nonthreatening advice on sex, relationships, family and all manner of decent behavior.” To see her talking with Conan O’Brien about penis size and body parts, look below.

“I don’t give advice. I can’t tell anybody what to do. Instead I say this is what we know about this problem at this time. And here are the consequences of these actions.” —Dr. Joyce Brothers