- 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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"And it escalated to bounds that nobody expected. Nobody could believe what happened. And the scandal sheets loved it." On April 7, 1958, LIFE magazine published an article that aired the sisters' dirty laundry to the world. Featuring the sisters sniping at each other throughout, the piece concluded that theirs was, quote, "the most, feverish female feud since Elizabeth sent Mary Queen of Scots to the chopping block."
the estranged sisters helped to prove the old maxim that "there's no such thing as bad publicity." Their readership soared, heightening competition in the newspaper business: If a paper got Landers, its competitor had to get Van Buren.
By 1964, the sisters hadn't spoken in nearly seven years. But that summer, right before their simultaneous 25th wedding anniversaries, Landers decided to bury the hatchet. She called Van Buren and asked if the two couples could take a vacation together. Her sister responded positively, and the two agreed to resolve their issues and move on. "I thought, 'This can't go on forever'," Landers later explained of their reconciliation. "So, we met in Bermuda, and I remember she came with a fur-trimmed hat, and I said, 'Honey, we're not going to Knome, Alaska, we're going to Bermuda, get rid of the hat. We laughed, we had fun. And then the relationship, it was back to where it was before."
Covering topics ranging from relationship troubles to sex to religion, politics and other philosophies, Van Buren's column continued to garner success throughout the 1990s, with readers sending between 3,000 to 25,000 letters each week. According to TIME magazine, by the early '80s, Van Buren had hired 11 employees to help manage the large quantity of inquiries: six to answer letters, four to open mail and one to help conduct research. A further testament of its acclaim, "Dear Abby," under Van Buren's leadership, was published in 1,000 newspapers around the world.
Van Buren's approach to advice-giving differed from her sister's: While they both had an ear for the one-liner, "Dear Abby" tended to be more light-hearted and funny, and provided abbreviated responses to readers' questions; "Ask Ann Landers" tackled big issues head on, through more detailed responses. Among the various sentiments that she shared, Van Buren believed that parents should take lightly to issues caused by their children. "Kids grow up awfully fast these days," she once said. "You should try to have a good relationship with your kids, no matter what they do."
By the end of her career, which spanned more than four decades, Van Buren had become one of America's most adored newspaper columnists. She is credited today with helping to transform the standard "lonely hearts" column into a more profound and candid feature, shaping the nation's changing moral conscience for nearly 50 years.
From 1963 to '75, Van Buren conducted a radio adaptation of her famous column. She also wrote best-selling books, including The Best of Abby.
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