‘Dear Abby’ advice columnist Pauline Phillips dies at 94
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Pauline Friedman Phillips, who as Abigail Van Buren -- ‘Dear Abby’ — for more than 40 years dispensed advice to newspaper readers worldwide on everything from snoring spouses to living wills, has died. She was 94.
Phillips died Wednesday in Minneapolis after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a statement from Universal Uclick syndicate.
The youngest of four daughters of Russian immigrants, Pauline Esther Friedman and her identical twin, Esther Pauline, who became advice columnist Ann Landers, were born in Sioux City, Iowa, on July 4, 1918. Phillips once said that as children, “We thought all those firecrackers and skyrockets were just for us.”
Perhaps those pyrotechnics were a harbinger of things to come for the vivacious, popular Friedman twins — ‘Popo” and “Eppie” — who were destined to become two of the most famous and influential women of their generation.
For 71 years, she was married to Morton B. Phillips, scion of the National Pressure Cooker Co. (Presto). From an office in their Beverly Hills home, she continued to edit the column into her 80s, although in later years daughter Jeanne Phillips took over much of the writing.
“I started out editing her,” Jeanne Phillips said in 1999, “and now she edits me.” She plans to “continue the good work my mother started as long as I’m able. It provides a service people absolutely need.”
The improbable saga of “Dear Abby” began in 1955 when Phillips was an affluent homemaker in Hillsborough, Calif., with time on her hands, doing volunteer work and playing mah-jongg. Her twin, who’d just been hired by the Chicago Sun-Times Syndicate to take over the Ann Landers column, began forwarding some of her letters to her for replies.
Always extremely close, the sisters were thrilled to be collaborating on an advice column.
Phillips soon started her own advice column for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Her twin sister died in 2002.
A full obituary will follow at latimes.com/obits.
-- Beverly Beyette