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She is a world renowned sex therapist. She is a beloved figure across the City and the world. Dr. Ruth Westheimer is many, many things.
But one thing she is not is a native of The Bronx. In fact, Dr. Ruth has never lived in The Bronx.
But that’s not stopping organizers of this week’s Bronx Week celebrations, which are put together by the office of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. At a press conference at the University Heights Bridge last week, Carrion announced this year’s inductees to the Bronx Walk of Fame, making a point to note Dr. Ruth’s Bronx bona fides.
“There’s a lot of very interesting people that come from The Bronx,” said Carrion. “One of them is somebody who has become known the world over for talking about a topic that we all really care about.”
Carrion added, mimicking Dr. Ruth’s famous accent, “She is Dr. Ruth Westheimer.”
Dr. Ruth is a well-known and long-time resident of Washington Heights, something Carrion acknowledged during his introduction. But no one had ever before heard that she lived in The Bronx.
That’s because she never did, according to Dr. Ruth’s spokesperson Pierre Lehu. The closest Dr. Ruth ever came to a Bronx connection, said Lehu, was the few years she spent teaching at Lehman College in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Since she never lived in The Bronx, it is reasonable to ask just why Dr. Ruth was picked for the Bronx Walk of Fame and if she would still be honored at Saturday’s annual Bronx Ball. According to a spokesperson for the Bronx Tourism Council, nothing changes. Dr. Ruth, said the spokesperson, is an “honorary Bronxite” and will be honored thusly.
“This is the first year that an honorary Bronxite is inducted,” said the spokesperson’s statement. “Dr. Ruth has very strong ties to the Bronx. Her daughter [Miriam Westheimer] is the president of the Riverdale Y, she is on their board, her son went to Horace Mann. She has contributed a great deal to the Bronx community.”
Past inductees to the Bronx Walk of Fame include former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Television Host Regis Philbin, Author E.L. Doctorow, Freedom Tower architect Daniel Libeskind, actor Danny Aiello, and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.
This year’s inductees, along with Dr. Ruth, are hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Caz, the Rock Steady Crew, 1960’s doo wop group Larry Chance & The Earls and Adam Rodriguez, an actor on the CSI: Miami.