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January 17, 2013

‘Dear Abby’ advice columnist dies at age 94

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, like some of those collected for her 1981 book “The Best of Dear Abby.”

Dear Abby: My boyfriend is going to be 20 years old next month. I’d like to give him something nice for his birthday. What do you think he’d like? – Carol

Dear Carol: Nevermind what he’d like, give him a tie.

Dear Abby: What inspires you most to write? – Ted

Dear Ted: The Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Dear Abby: I’ve been going with this girl for a year. How can I get her to say yes? – Don

Dear Don: What’s the question?

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