Not many people know the name Pauline Friedman Phillips a.k.a. Abigail Van Buren; however, many will remember her as Dear Abby. Her column was read by millions of newspaper readers around the globe. According to Canada MSN News published on Jan 17, 2013, Pauline Friedman Phillips died at the age of 94. “Publicist, Gene Willis of Universal Uclick said Phillips died Wednesday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.”
Dear Abby was published in 1,000 newspapers from as far away as Thailand and was popular in the 1950s through to the 1970s. Her column was also in competition with her sister’s column. Her twin sister, Esther Friedman Lederer used the penname Ann Landers. Canada MSN goes on to say the styles of the columns were very different. Dear Abby responded to questions with one-liners, while Anne Landers gave lengthy answers to the questions her readership asked for.
Dear Abby’s advice did change over the years reflecting the changes in social values. For example, her stance changed on divorce. At first she was opposed to the idea. Later on Canada MSN quoted her saying, "I always thought that marriage should be forever," she explained. "I found out through my readers that sometimes the best thing they can do is part. If a man or woman is a constant cheater, the situation can be intolerable. Especially if they have children (sic). When kids see parents fighting, or even sniping at each other, I think it is terribly damaging." Yet, in a 1985 interview, Canada MSN reports that she was not above expressing her views on controversial topics such as being fond of gays.
The legacy of the feuding sisters
The sisters began the feud over their rival columns. The feud went on for years and continued through their daughters. The daughter of Esther (Ann Landers) is Margo Howard, while the daughter of Pauline (Dear Abby) is Jeanne Phillips.
According to the Los Angeles Times Margo Howard told "The CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" that Jeanne Phillips quoted “ her late aunt as having praised her as talented and "doing a wonderful job…" My mother had told me and her inner circle that she thought the column was quite subpar." “Howard said it is her intent to stop this second-generation feud before it goes further but feels obligated to respond "until Jeanne decides to shut up." She also suggested on her CBS appearance that Phillips "cease and desist with any more appearances or written material having to do with my mother, because anything further from her could take her to places I don't think she wants to go."
Hopefully now that the last twin and syndicated columnist died, the daughters can find in their heart the ability to forgive each other and honor the names of their famous mothers.