Also Credited As:Josephina Behar, Josephina Victoria Occhiuto
|Actor, Consultants & Advisors|
|Josephina Victoria Occhiuto on October 7, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York, USA|
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Born Josephina Victoria Occhiuto on Oct. 7, 1943 and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Behar was reared in a tight knit Italian family whom she would later say spoiled her by encouraging her to speak her mind. Within this nurturing atmosphere, she developed her acute communications skills, which would later serve her well, first as a teacher, and then more famously, as a top female stand-up comic. After graduating with a sociology degree from Queens College, Behar worked as a counselor in the New York State Employment office, before moving with her new husband, Joe Behar, to Rhode Island, where he worked as a college professor. She earned her master's degree in English at S.U.N.Y. in Stony Brook, beginning a career as a high school teacher before discovering her true calling in show business. Despite a brief detour as a receptionist at "Good Morning America" (ABC, 1975- ), Behar was on the right track. The drudgery of office work, coupled with her feeling of being completely overqualified, got the best of her and she was let go. Heeding the wake-up call, she tried her hand at stand-up comedy. Her determination paid off, as she was soon appearing in comedy clubs and, within six months, was back on "GMA" - this time, as a guest.
As she earned recognition for her work, the jobs started coming in. In the early 1980s, she worked for "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) producer Lorne Michaels on his short-lived sketch comedy alternative, "The New Show" (NBC, 1983-84) before it was cancelled. Behar next hosted an ABC radio show for three years, focusing on liberal issues and women's politics. She also landed a job as a writer for "It's Garry Shandling's Show" (Fox, 1986-1990) in 1986 and appeared in small roles in the movie "Hiding Out" (1987) and on the sitcom, "Baby Boom" (NBC, 1988-89). She continued to find work on the big screen; first in the Nora Ephron-scripted films "Cookie" (1989) and "This is My Life" (1992), followed by the Woody Allen film, "Manhattan Murder Mystery" (1993). However, Behar knew her greatest strength was being her outspoken, opinionated self, armed only with a mic and a spotlight. Throughout the mid-1990s, she continued to perform comedy, garnering her own segment on the celebrated cable comedy showcase "One Night Stand" (HBO, 1988-1993), along with providing the voice of a neurotic patient named Joy on the animated series, "Dr Katz: Professional Therapist" (Comedy Central,1994-2000), a show on which Behar was also a staff writer.
It was while performing a stand-up routine at the 89th birthday party of Milton Berle, that Behar caught the eye of party guest Barbara Walters, who would later suggest the comic for her new morning talk show, "The View" (ABC, 1997- ). Initially, she appeared on alternating days, when Walters was not available, before becoming a permanent fixture. Once permanently ensconced at the table, Behar continued to provide an acerbic counterbalance to the show's ensemble, which included Walters, Meredith Vieira, Star Jones and the frequently rotating youngster lineup that began with Debbie Matenopoulos, followed by Lisa Ling and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Viewers knew they could always count on Behar for breaking the ice with a joke or being the only cast member with enough spunk to ask celebrities the truly embarrassing questions. She was also the first to humorously voice the oft-ignored, post-menopausal women's point-of-view - a trait that endeared her to many baby boomer fans of the show. With this newfound fame, Behar began writing a monthly column in 2001 for Good Housekeeping magazine called, "Talk To Me," a humorous bent on the traditional women's advice column. The following year, she hosted the five-part pilot series "Love, Hate & Joy" (ABC Family Channel, 2002), a nighttime talk show experiment focusing on love and dating advice for women.
As the most liberal voice on the "The View" - that is, aside from Rosie O'Donnell's brief tenure - Behar was frequently recognized for her contributions to women in broadcasting as well as honored by various human rights organizations. Even as she juggled her hosting duties on "The View," Behar kept up a high profile, making appearances on other talk shows, such as "Real Time with Bill Maher" (HBO, 2002- ), cameos on comedy series like "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-2013), and in the feature film "Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail" (2009). As if her busy scheduled were not demanding enough, Behar also began hosting her own talk show, "The Joy Behar Show" (HLN, 2009-2011), even as she maintained her spot on "The View." The latter program once again became the subject of controversy when guest Bill O'Reilly uttered the statement, "Muslims killed us on 9/11," prompting Behar and co-host Whoopi Goldberg to storm off the set in disgust, much to the dismay of Walters. The 2010 incident soon became a viral sensation, viewed by millions on the Internet. Meanwhile, Behar continued to act occasionally, playing a small role in the big screen comedy "Hall Pass" (2011) and voicing Eunice in the animated "Ice Age: Continental Drift" (2012). Despite her HLN show being the cable network's highest rated, it was canceled after only two years on air. But she rebounded as the host of a similar style talk show "Joy Behar: Say Anything!" (Current TV, 2012- ). In March 2013, she surprised many when it was announced that she would be leaving "The View" that August after 16 seasons, citing a possible return to stand-up as one of the reasons.