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Pauline Friedman Phillips, aka Dear Abby, with daughter Jeanne Phillips.
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Date published: 1/18/2013
Associated Press Writer
MINNEAPOLIS--Pauline Friedman Phillips, who as Dear Abby dispensed snappy, sometimes saucy advice on love, marriage and meddling mothers-in-law to millions of newspaper readers around the world and opened the way for the likes of Dr. Ruth, Dr. Phil and Oprah, has died. She was 94.
Phillips died Wednesday in Minneapolis after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, said Gene Willis, a publicist for the Universal Uclick syndicate.
"My mother leaves very big high heels to fill with a legacy of compassion, commitment and positive social change," her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who now writes the column, said in a statement.
Private funeral services were held Thursday, Willis said.
The long-running "Dear Abby" column first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1956. Mother and daughter started sharing the byline in 2000, and Jeanne Phillips took over in 2002, when the family announced Pauline Phillips had Alzheimer's disease.
Pauline Phillips wrote under the name Abigail Van Buren. Her column competed for decades with the advice 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 they later regained the closeness they had growing up in Sioux City, Iowa.
The two columns differed in style. Ann Landers responded to questioners with homey, detailed advice. Abby's replies were often flippant and occasionally risque one-liners.
Pauline Esther Friedman was born on Independence Day 1918 in Sioux City, 17 minutes after her identical twin. Their father, a movie-theater chain owner, and mother were immigrants from Russia who fled their native land in 1905 because of the persecution of Jews.
Growing up, the twins dressed alike. Both played the violin and both wrote gossip columns for their high school and college newspapers. Two days before their 21st birthday, they had a double wedding. Pauline married businessman Morton Phillips and Esther married Jules Lederer, who went on to found Budget Rent-a-Car.
The twins' lives diverged as they followed their husbands to different cities. But after Esther got a job writing the Ann Landers advice column, Pauline arranged to write a competing one as Abigail Van Buren.
For a long time they did not speak to each other, but their differences were eventually patched up. In 2001, at age 83, both attended the 90th birthday party of their sister Helen Brodkey.
Aside from the Dear Abby column, which appeared in 1,000 newspapers as far off as Brazil and Thailand, Phillips conducted a radio version of "Dear Abby" from 1963 to 1975 and wrote best-selling books about her life and advice.
In her book "The Best of Abby," Phillips wrote, "My readers have told me that they've learned from me. But it's the other way around. I've learned from them."