"Dear Abby" Advice Columnist Pauline Phillips Dead at 94
Newspapers -- and readers -- the world over lost an icon Wednesday, Jan. 16, after "Dear Abby" advice columnist Pauline Phillips died in Minneapolis at the age of 94.
Phillips had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for years, but was still dishing out advice to readers as recently as 2002, though her daughter Jeanne took on co-authoring duties in the mid-1990s.
"I have lost my mother, my mentor and my best friend," Jeanne told TMZ in a statement. "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, who wrote under the pen name Abigail Van Buren, shared advice on everything from dating to snoring spouses for more than 40 years to a readership of more than 90 million newspaper readers.
The daughter of Russian immigrants got her start in 1956 after reading an advice column that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle and immediately contacting the paper's editors to let them know that she could do a 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 in 2004. "That knocked them off their feet."
Prior to her impressive run as America's iconic advice columnist, Phillips had been a 37-year-old stay-at-home mom who did volunteer work and played mahjong, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Her twin sister, Eppie Lederer, was also an advice columnist, writing under the name Ann Landers. She died in 2002 at the age of 83.
Phillips was always modest about her work and growing fame.
"I don't pretend to be an authority on journalism or on human relations," Phillips once said at the start of her career. "I just happen to be a very happy, a very healthy, a very lucky young woman with a fascinating hobby."
Phillips is survived by her husband of 73 years, Mort Phillips; daughter Jeanne Phillips and husband Walter Harris; son Edward Phillips and wife Leslye Phillips; four grandchildren and two great granddaughters.