This Day in Death

1.16.13: Pauline Phillips, AKA Dear Abby – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:44 pm January 18, 2013

PAULINE_PHILLIPSThough no one took any joy in it, eventually someone in 1997 had to tell Phillips that she had been futilely typing her columns onto an inkjet printer for the past six months.

As most of you know, I get almost all of my life advice from a combination of Archie comics and my racist uncle’s speeches about Hispanics. But for those of you less blessed, you may have resorted to the Dear Abby column at some sad, near-suicidal point in what can generously be called your life.

Back when fish wraps were known as “newspapers” and were used to communicate opinions and information about current events, Pauline Phillips wrote the column under the pseudonym Abigail Van Buren. She kept it up until Alzheimer’s Disease forced her retirement in 2002, which means there were people in the age of the internet who were perfectly happy to put important life decisions on hold for 3-5 weeks in the slim hope that an octogenarian that they’d never met would be able to come down from her Ditropan high long enough to pound out 2 lines of snarky advice. If possible, those people should definitely be on a list somewhere. It’s for their safety as much as ours.

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.

Phillips’ twin sister Esther Friedman Lederer famously wrote the Ask Ann Landers column, and the two competed for the same coveted “invalid shut-ins, cuckolded husbands, and bored suburban teenagers who aren’t very good at pranks” demographic for almost 50 years. 50 years! The conflict resulted in decades of animosity between the sisters as Americans desperately struggled to care. It’s like the time Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman both opened acting schools right across the street from one another. So many have tried to help them patch that up, but neither one looks like they’re ever gonna budge.

Source: The Washington Post

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