A seemingly unlikely knowledge of boxing first drew public attention to Dr. Brothers, but her long career was founded on what were seen as the sympathy, sincerity and psychological knowledge that she provided.
Among those who confronted the troubles and torments of the multitude, Dr. Brothers seemed to stand out for her ability to give concise, comprehensible advice.
Although her scholarly training was undeniable, her suggestions came in everyday language, without resort to cant, jargon or bewildering complexity.
Her solutions, ideas and recommendations appeared in a syndicated newspaper column that at one point ran in more than 300 papers. A column ran for many years in Good Housekeeping magazine.
Readers also could avail themselves of her insights through best-selling books.
But problem-plagued and angst-ridden members of the American public, as well as the merely curious and those who craved greater self-knowledge, had their greatest access to Dr. Brothers through her constant television appearances.
She did not shrink from frank talk about topics that until then had been the subject only of whispers. She responded to society’s growing desire to speak publicly about matters once kept private.
“I invented media psychology,” she was once quoted as telling The Washington Post. “I was the first. The founding mother.”
In such statements could be heard the confidence that accompanied what were described as her personal shyness and quiet, unassuming private demeanor.
In addition to familiarity with the latest discoveries about the mind, Dr. Brothers had a presence, charm and mental quickness that brought media success.
Over the years, she became the face of American psychology, playing herself on many television shows. She was a frequent guest on talk shows, and her face and name were recognizable instantly to millions.
In addition to her key role in opening the airwaves to serious discussion of the most intimate matters of heart and mind, Dr. Brothers was a pioneer in what is now known as reality television.
Fame arrived almost 60 years ago, in the mid-1950s, when television, still in its early years, drew vast audiences each week to a game show called “The $64,000 Question.”
Apparently in recognition of its seeming incongruity, it was suggested that the 5-foot-tall Dr. Brothers should be questioned about boxing.
Supported by intensive study and a capacious memory, she gained growing fame as she responded correctly week after week to the most abstruse inquiries about ring history.
On she went, answering one stumper after another, until she at last answered the daunting $64,000 question.
In time, it was alleged that the show was scripted rather than spontaneous and that favorite contestants were fed answers. Dr. Brothers maintained that she had not received such help, and inquiries into the operations of the show indicated that her triumphs were untainted.