'Dear Abby' Advice Columnist Dies at Age 94

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - Pauline Friedman Phillips, who under the name of Abigail Van Buren wrote the long-running "Dear Abby" advice column that was followed by millions of newspaper readers throughout the world, died Wednesday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was 94.

Phillips' column, which appeared in 1,000 newspapers as far off as Brazil and Thailand, competed for decades with the advice column of Ann Landers, written by her twin sister, Esther Friedman Lederer, who died in 2002. Their relationship was stormy in their early adult years, but later they regained a close relationship.

The twin sisters were born to immigrants from Russia who had fled in 1905 because of the persecution of Jews. "My parents came [to the United States] with nothing. They all came with nothing," Phillips said in a 1986 Associated Press interview.

The two columns differed in style. Ann Landers responded to questioners with homey, detailed advice. Abby's replies were often flippant one-liners.

Searching for a name for the column, which debuted in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1956, Pauline chose Abigail from the Bible and Van Buren from the eighth American president.

In her book "The Best of Abby," Phillips commented that her years writing the column "have been fulfilling, exciting and incredibly rewarding. ... My readers have told me that they've learned from me. But it's the other way around. I've learned from them. Has it been a lot of work? Not really. It's only work if you'd rather be doing something else."

'Dear Abby' advice columnist Pauline Friedman Phillips, 82, known to millions of readers as Abigail van Buren, signs autographs, 2001.Credit: AP