Pauline Friedman Phillips, the famed advice columnist who wrote the under the pseudonym Abigail Van Buren for her column, “Dear Abby,” died on Wednesday.
Phillips passed away at the age of 94, after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The news was announced by her publicist, Gene Willis.
Phillips started “Dear Abby” in 1956, a year after her twin sister, Esther "Eppie" Lederer, began writing an advice column for the Chicago Sun-Times. According to the Associated Press, the two were initially rivals but later regained the closeness they shared growing up.
Lederer (who wrote under the name Ann Landers) died of bone cancer in 2002 at the age of 83.
Over the years, the column has attracted millions of followers. USA Today reports that “Dear Abby” was featured in 1,200 newspapers and had 95 million readers daily. Thousands of readers wrote in weekly seeking her playful and quotable advice.
For instance, when a panicked reader asked how they could “improve” their neighborhood after a gay couple moved in, she famously responded, “You could move.”
In 1967, during the Vietnam War, Phillips started Operation Dear Abby, which allowed families to send holiday messages to soldiers. In 2003, the message service was launched via OperationDearAbby.net and is now relied on by soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to UExpress, the site is responsible for sending more than 36 million messages to the troops.
In 2000, her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, began co-writing the column with her. The two shared the byline Abigail Van Buren.
After it was announced that Phillips was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in 2002, Jeanne became the sole writer of the column.
Jeanne released a statement to TMZ on Thursday, following her mother’s death.
“I have lost my mother, my mentor and my best friend,” she said. “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.”
Phillips was born on July 4, 1918, in Sioux City, Iowa, to Russian immigrant parents.
A graduate of the NYU Media and Communications program, Justine has studied film and journalism in...