Her name was Pauline Friedman Phillips, but you might better recognize her as 'Dear Abby'.
She wrote under the byline "Abigail Van Buren" for almost 50 years, offering answers to some of our most compelling questions about everything from smelly spouses to disastrous dates. She went by "Abby" to family and friends (plus 90 million or so devoted readers) her entire life, and she died last night at the age of 94.
Phillips started out as an advice columnist back in 1956 when she was a stay-at-home mom of two. She contacted the editors at the San Francisco Chronicle after reading an advice column that ran in the paper, boasting that she could do a much better job.
"They gave her a bunch of letters, thinking that they would never see her again — and she immediately took all of the letters to my dad's nearby office and whipped out answers and had answers back the same day," her son Eddie Phillips told Good Morning America. "That knocked them off their feet."
Even though she stopped writing some time ago (she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease) her legacy lived on in her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who took over the column in 2002. The columnist was always modest about her star status as a writer, which is what made her so relatable as America's most iconic advice columnist.
"I don't pretend to be an authority on journalism or on human relations," Phillips said. "I just happen to be a very happy, a very healthy, a very lucky young woman with a fascinating hobby."
1. Dear Abby: I am a 29-year-old woman who has married and divorced the same man three times in the last 10 years. Our last divorce became final three weeks ago, and now Mike is begging me to marry him again. We have no children, and we don't want any. Abby, the only time he is decent to me is when we're divorced. He's a wonderful lover but a rotten husband. He's a boozer and a cheater.
If I told you how much we've spent on lawyers you would think we were out of our minds. I love the guy, but I know if I marry him again he'll go back to his old abusive ways. Can you help me? – Three-Time Loser
Dear Loser: Three strikes and a man is out, no matter how good his pitches. Some men are great to date but not to mate, and Mike could be one of them.
2. Dear Abby: My husband hates to spend money! I cut my own hair and make my own clothes, and I have to account for every nickel I spend. Meanwhile, he has a stock of savings bonds put away that would choke a cow. How do I get some money out of him before we are both called to our final judgment? He says he's saving for a rainy day. – Forty Years Hitched
Dear Hitched: Tell him it's raining! Keep Reading ...
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