The woman who created “Dear Abby,” Pauline Phillips, has died at the age of 94. Phillips, under the pen name Abigail Van Buren, started the newspaper advice column in 1956.
Phillips’ career with the San Francisco Chronicle started in 1956 when she contacted the editor and suggested that she would like to write an advice column. Stanleigh Arnold, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, reluctantly sent Phillips home with a pile of letters from readers who were requesting advice.
As stated on Wikipedia, Phillips returned to Arnold’s office the same day, having written answers to all of the letters. Thus began her career. She chose her pen name “Abigail,” from a story in the Old Testament, and “Van Buren,” after former president Martin Van Buren. As Abigail Van Buren, she created the “Dear Abby” advise column.
Phillips continued answering letters and giving advise in her column until she began suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Her daughter Jeanne took over her pen name and column when she was no longer able to work.
Pauline’s daughter Jeanne spoke to TMZ about her mother’s legacy:
“I have lost my mother, my mentor and my best friend. 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 shared her love of writing and talent for giving advise with her twin sister. “Ann Landers,” was well known for her advise columns as well, although the sisters had slightly different styles. Where Landers was more thoughtful when giving advise, Phillips was known for her sharp wit.
Although her “real” name was not well known, “Dear Abby” will be remember remembered fondly.