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.”
PHOTOS: 'Dear Abby' columnist Pauline Friedman Phillips | 1918-2013
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.”
HOLLYWOOD STAR WALK: Dear Abby
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
Her twin sister died in 2002.
A full obituary will follow at latimes.com/obits.
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Photo: Advice columnist Ann Landers, right, and twin sister Pauline Friedman Phillips, who wrote "Dear Abby," in June 1986 at their 50th high school reunion in Sioux City, Iowa. Phillips died Wednesday at 94. Credit: John Gaps III / Associated Press