RUTH WESTHEIMER AUTOGRAPH



Ruth Westheimer was born June 4, 1928. Dr. Ruth is a sex therapist and author. Best known as Dr. Ruth, the New York Times described her as “a cultural icon in the 1980s. The Sister Wendy of sexuality, she ushered in the new age of freer, franker talk about sex on radio and television—and was endlessly parodied for her limitless enthusiasm and for having an accent only a psychologist could have.” Westheimer was born as Karola Ruth Siegel in Frankfurt, Germany, the only child of an Orthodox Jewish couple. In 1939 she was sent to Switzerland by her mother and grandmother after her father was taken by the Nazis. There she came of age in an orphanage, and stopped receiving her parent’s letters in September 1941. In 1945, Westheimer learned that her parents had been killed in the Holocaust, possibly at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Westheimer decided to immigrate to the British Mandate of Palestine. There, at 17, she “first had sexual intercourse on a starry night, in a haystack—without contraception.” She later told the New York Times that “I am not happy about that, but I know much better now and so does everyone who listens to my radio program.” Westheimer joined the Haganah in Jerusalem. Despite her diminutive height (4’7″), she was trained as a scout and sharpshooter. Westheimer was seriously wounded in action by an exploding shell during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, and it was several months before she was able to walk again. In 1950, Westheimer moved to France, where she studied and then taught psychology at the University of Paris. In 1956, she immigrated to the United States, settling in Washington Heights, Manhattan. After just two months, despite the initial concerns over a live show, it was decided that Westheimer could go live for an hour taking phone calls (with a delay). Within a year “Dr. Ruth” had a larger audience on Sunday night at midnight on this struggling New York station than many NY stations had in morning drive. As “Dr. Ruth”, Westheimer became nationally known after several appearances on “Late Night with David Letterman” in the early 1980’s. In less than two years, Dr. Ruth became a household name and was being heard on radio stations across the country. Her pioneering TV show, also called Sexually Speaking, first aired in 1982 as a 15-minute taped show on Lifetime Cable. It has since increased in popularity and has been nationally syndicated, as has her radio show. She is known to be candid and funny, but respectful. In recent years, Westheimer has made regular appearances on the PBS Television children’s show Between the Lions as “Dr. Ruth Wordheimer” in a parody of her therapist role, in which she helps anxious readers and spellers overcome their fear of long words.

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