Psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers, who blazed a trail decades ago in the emerging US television genre of advice programming, has died aged 85, her spokesman said.

Brothers passed away in New Jersey, outside New York city, her longtime spokesman Sandy Brokaw said on Monday.

With a doctorate from Columbia University, Brothers became a popular presence on US airwaves who helped generations understand parenting and child psychology.

At the previously unseen intersection of intellect and entertainment, Brothers' role on television broadened the genre of advice-based television, in which hosts' credibility and viewers' learning were in play.

"She was not only a client, but a friend for 30 years," Brokaw told AFP. "She was the consummate professional, no matter what she did."

As a young mother, she took a long hiatus from work, believing it was best for her daughter's development. That fueled her lifelong professional fascination with children's growth and parents' need to make tough choices.

When she and her husband were pressed for cash, she entered a quiz show -- The $64,000 Question -- and became the first woman ever to make off with its top prize, after memorizing an encyclopedia about boxing.

In 1958, when NBC television offered her a program on love, marriage, sex and parenting, she included topics that long were taboo in US media -- from menopause to impotence to sexual fulfillment.

Later, she had a syndicated newspaper column and as an early multimedia personality, played herself in more than a dozen films and on television shows. Usually she dispensed advice, tongue in cheek, everywhere from films to comedy classic Saturday Night Live.

Among her bestselling books were "What Every Women Should Know About Men," and "Widowed," following the death of her husband of four decades Dr. Milton Brothers.