Dr. Ruth Westheimer may best be known for having pioneered talking explicitly about sex on radio and television, but as it turns out, that is only a small part of her rich and diversified life. Born in Germany in 1928, Dr. Westheimer was sent to Switzerland at the age of ten to escape the Holocaust, which wiped out her entire immediate family. At the age of seventeen she went to then Palestine. She joined the Haganah, the Israeli freedom fighters, was trained to be a sniper and was seriously wounded in a bomb blast.
She later moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne and in 1956 went to the U.S. where she obtained her Masters Degree (M.A.) in Sociology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research and Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in the Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University Teacher's College.
Her work for Planned Parenthood led her to study human sexuality under Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center, where she became an Adjunct Associate Professor. Subsequently she taught courses at various institutions of higher learning including Princeton and Yale. She currently is teaching a course at Columbia's Teachers College and Hunter College. She continues to lecture worldwide.
She is the author of 44 books, the latest of which are Stay or Go and Roller Coaster Grandma and the executive producer of five documentaries. She can be found on Twitter @AskDrRuth and on YouTube. A one-woman show about her life, “Becoming Dr. Ruth” has played in the Berkshires, Hartford and off-Broadway and continues to tour.
A documentary about her life has been made, Ask Dr. Ruth, which premiered on January 25th at the Sundance Film Festival and was shown in theaters across the country and is now on Hulu.
Dr. Westheimer, a widow, has two children, four grandchildren and resides in New York City.