'Dear Abby' Columnist Dies at 94

Pauline Friedman Phillips, Daughter of Jewish Immigrants, Dished Out Advice to Millions

By Reuters

Published January 17, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Pauline Friedman Phillips, the “”Dear Abby” newspaper columnist who dished out advice to millions of confused, troubled and lovesick readers in America and around the world, has died at the age of 94.

wikimedia commons

Phillips, the daughter of Jewish immigrants whose twin sister Esther wrote the rival “Ask Ann Landers” column, died in Minneapolis on Wednesday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, said a statement released by the syndicator of the “Dear Abby” column, Universal Uclick.

“My mother leaves very big high heels to fill with a legacy of compassion, commitment and positive social change. I will honor her memory every day by continuing this legacy,” her daughter Jeanne Phillips said in a statement.

The “Dear Abby” column, now written by Jeanne Phillips, is the world’s most widely syndicated, having run in some 1,400 newspapers and with a daily readership of more than 110 million, according to Universal Uclick.

Phillips’ family announced in August 2002 that Pauline had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Under the pen name Abigail Van Buren, Pauline Phillips handled the “Dear Abby” column for 31 years before bringing in Jeanne for help in a joint venture, and eventually handing off all of it to her daughter in 2002 .

She was also the decades-long rival of her twin sister, Esther Lederer, better known as the columnist Ann Landers. While the sisters wrote reams of advice on mending relationships, their own became so embittered that they did not speak for many years.

In Pauline Phillips’ prime, some 25,000 letters per week arrived at her office in Beverly Hills, California, with readers asking Abby for help with their insecurities, frustrations, sex lives and hundreds of other topics. She would respond with advice from experts, common sense or quips.

WIDE INFLUENCE

Her influence spread far and wide. In 1987 when “Dear Abby” ran a survey asking readers to send a postcard or letter stating if they had ever cheated on their mates, nearly 250,000 pieces of mail were received, Universal Uclick said.

In 1992, the column asked readers to say where they were on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. More than 300,000 people responded.

“”Abby” was born Pauline Esther Friedman, 17 minutes after “”Ann,” whose real name was Esther Pauline Friedman, in Sioux City, Iowa, on July 4, 1918. Pauline was known in the family as Popo and Esther was Eppie.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.