July 04, 1918 - January 16, 2013
Pauline Phillips, more known to the general public under her pen name Abigail Van Buren, was an American columnist, whose "Dear Abby" column made her the most read woman in the world, with an audience of more than 110 million readers at one time!
Pauline Phillips - Dear Abby
Pauline Phillips, nicknamed "Popo", was born in Sioux City, Iowa, to the family of Rebecca Rushall and Abraham Friedman, who came to America as Jewish refugees from the Russian empire, with no possessions, and realized their American dream, opening a chain of successful movie theaters.
Pauline was one of the four daughter of Rebecca and Abraham, and had an identical twin sister Esther Friedman, who would later become her colleague (under the pen name of Ann Landers) and, during a period of sisterly strife, her bitter rival.
From her very childhood, Pauline emulated her mother, who was very popular among their neighbors and acquaintances who would frequently visit their home, looking for advice. She knew how to listen to people and what she could do to help them; she also inherited her father's sense of humor, and all this pre-defined her later career as an advice columnist...
Pauline and Esther graduated from the Morningside College, where they both studied journalism and psychology. Together, they wrote a gossip column for the college newspaper. The sisters even married together - in a double-wedding ceremony in 1939, right on their birthday. She had two daughters from the marriage.
In 1956 Pauline sent a letter to the editor of San Francisco Chronicle, bluntly saying she could write a much better advice column than the existing one. Though she had no credentials, the editor decided to give her a try, asking Pauline to answer some reader mail within a week. She sent back the replies in less than two hours, and her style impressed the editor so much that she got the job of a columnist on the spot. She chose the pen name of Abigail Van Buren, and soon the column was known as Dear Abby.
It became the most syndicated advice column in the world, with reprints in 1,400 publications and a readership base of around 110,000,000! Many of her sarcastic yet witty and wise one-liner replies have become classics since then. Her is one example: Dear Abby, our daughter-in-law was married in January and five months later she had a nine pound baby girl. She said the baby was premature. Can a baby this big be that early? - The baby was on time. The wedding was late. Forget it.
In 1963 Phillips started the daily "Dear Abby" program on CBS, becoming a pioneer of the genre on the radio. The program was such a success, that it even received its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Pauline authored six books, which were a commercial success: Dear Abby, Dear Teenager, Dear Abby on Marriage, Where Were You When President Kennedy was Shot?, The Dear Abby Wedding Planner, and The Best of Dear Abby.
In 2002, when Philips was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, her daughter Jeanne took it upon herself to write the Dear Abby column. Pauline Philips died on January 16, 2013, at the age of 94.
Judd, Robin. "Ann Landers biography". Jewish Virtual Library.
"Dear Abby, advice columnist, sister of Ann Landers, dies at 94", The Chronicle Herald, Canada, January 17, 2013