Dr Joyce Brothers, 85, Who Refused To Lose On 'The $64,000 Question' Dies

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Dr Joyce Brothers, the psychologist who helped address subjects like sexual fulfilment and infidelity in the mainstream by establishing herself as a fixture of TV, radio, film and print, has died aged 85. After struggling with being a stay-at-home mother, Brothers came up with an ambitious plan: transform herself into a boxing expert and try out for the popular 1950s television quiz show 'The $64,000 Question." She won big and used her celebrity to forge a career in popular psychology.

Dr Joyce Brothers On The Conan O'Brien Show In 1997

As the Los Angeles Times report, Brothers became a household name and tapped into America's collective psyche via television on NBC, radio and magazines. Her popularity grew thanks to her engaging on-screen presence and openness to address what were then considered taboo subjects. She paved the way for others in her field to carve out careers on television and ultimately helped popularize psychology which is almost commonplace in contemporary media. "She was the first to open up the public airwaves to private feelings. There was no one like that," Ron Simon, curator of the Paley Center for Media in New York, said in 2006 in the Bergen County, N.J, Record. "Now, so many programs deal with these intimate matters."

Though contemporary actresses and models are praised for their eschewing of makeup for photo-shoots, which is regarded as ground-breaking and innovative, it was indeed Brothers who first refused to adhere to television's typical representation of woman. During her appearance on The $64,000 Question, Brothers was asked to wear makeup by sponsor Charles Revson or cosmetic company Revlon, though she refused to buckle. She was then asked by sponsors to purposely get a question wrong at the $16,000 level but again refused. "They were going to knock me out with impossible questions, but they didn't," Brothers later recalled. "I'd memorized everything it is possible to know on the subject." Her answers included the full name of the Marquees of Queensberry and the length of the 1923 Jack Dempsey-Luis Firpo fight. 

Two years later, Brothers returned to win another $70,000.


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