- NAME: Abigail Van Buren
- OCCUPATION: Writer
- BIRTH DATE: July 04, 1918
- DEATH DATE: January 16, 2013
- EDUCATION: Morningside College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Sioux City, Iowa
- PLACE OF DEATH: Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Full Name: Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips
- AKA: Pauline Friedman
- AKA: Pauline Phillips
- Nickname: "Popo"
- Maiden Name: Pauline Esther Friedman
- AKA: Pauline Esther Phillips
- AKA: Esther Phillips
- AKA: "Dear Abby"
Best Known For
Pauline Phillips, best known by the pen name "Abigail Van Buren," was one of America's most adored advice columnists as the author of "Dear Abby." She was the twin sister of columnist Ann Landers.
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Born in Iowa in 1918, Pauline Phillips, better known by the pen name "Abigail Van Buren," debuted in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1956, writing the incredibly popular column "Dear Abby." The identical twin of advice columnist Ann Landers, Van Buren went on to become one of America's most adored newspaper columnists. She is credited with helping to transform the standard "lonely hearts" column into a more profound and candid feature,
"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."
"My contemporaries would come to me for advice—I got that from my mother: the ability to listen and to help other people with their problems. I also got Daddy's sense of humor."
"Kids grow up awfully fast these days. You should try to have a good relationship with your kids, no matter what they do."
shaping the nation's changing moral conscience for nearly 50 years. Van Buren died on January 16, 2013, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips, better known by the pen name "Abigail Van Buren," was born in Sioux City, Iowa, on July 4, 1918. Nicknamed "Popo" at an early age, Van Buren grew up with identical twin sister Eppie Lederer, who would also go on to become a popular advice columnist, under the pseudonym "Ann Landers." The sisters were raised by Russian-Jewish immigrants: a father who made a good living as a successful movie theater proprieter and a homemaking mother. "My parents came with nothing. They all came with nothing," Van Buren later told The Associated Press. She went on to credit her parents with the social skills integral to her later writing career. "My contemporaries would come to me for advice—I got that from my mother: the ability to listen and to help other people with their problems. I also got Daddy's sense of humor."
Following their high school graduation, Van Buren and Landers attended college together at Morningside College in Sioux. Soon after, on July 2, 1938, the twins had a double wedding: Van Buren married a businessman named Morton Phillips, and her sister wed Jules Lederer, who would later found Budget Rent-a-Car.
In 1955, Landers began working as an advice columnist for The Chicago Sun-Times—authoring responses to readers for the successful "Ask Ann Landers"—and not long after, Van Buren followed suit. In her late 30s, Van Buren was offered a writing contract with the McNaught Syndicate. Her column, called "Dear Abby," debuted in the San Francisco Chronicle on January 9, 1956, and quickly proved to be a hit among readers. (She crafted her now-famous moniker by combining the names of two inspirational figures: the biblical hero Abigail and Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States.)
At the same time that Van Buren's career was just taking off, her relationship with her sister couldn't have become more sour: "Dear Abby" had created direct and serious competition for Landers, and, even worse, she hadn't known about Van Buren's column-writing plans. Angry and hurt, Landers severed all ties with her twin. "I felt betrayed. Because she didn't tell me that she was considering it, she didn't tell me—she just presented it as a fact," Landers later explained. The sisters' bitter dispute soon evolved into a hostile and very public rivalry that would last for nearly a decade.
"They became serious competitors," Henry Ginsburg, Landers's high school boyfriend, later said of the dispute.
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