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Dear Abby Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame memorializing the Dear Abby radio show

Dear Abby is an American advice column founded in 1956 by Pauline Phillips under the pen name "Abigail Van Buren" and carried on today by her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who now owns the legal rights to the pen name.



According to Pauline Phillips, she came up with the pen name Abigail Van Buren by combining the name of Biblical figure Abigail in the Book of I Samuel, with the last name of former U.S. President Martin Van Buren.

The column was syndicated by McNaught Syndicate from 1956 until 1966, when it moved to Universal Press Syndicate. Dear Abby's current syndication company claims the column is "well-known for sound, compassionate advice, delivered with the straightforward style of a good friend."[1]

As of 1987, over 1200 newspapers ran the column.[2] On June 1, 2009, the column moved from the Chicago Tribune to the Chicago Sun-Times.[3]

Abby was born Pauline Esther Friedman, and her twin sister was born Esther Pauline Friedman. Abby was known as Popo, and her sister was Eppie[4] (a nickname from E.P.).[citation needed]

Ask Ann LandersEdit

A few months before Pauline Phillips started Dear Abby, her twin sister Eppie Lederer took over the Ann Landers column created by Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist Ruth Crowley in 1943. This similar column, Ask Ann Landers, was written from 1955 to 2002 by the elder Phillips twin sister Eppie Lederer. This produced a rivalry and lengthy estrangement between the two sisters.[5]

On February 13, 1987, the Chicago Tribune announced that the Ann Landers column was moving to the Tribune, which had published the Dear Abby column for years. The Tribune ran both columns, Landers every day and Abby six days a week.[2]

After Eppie Lederer's death, the spirit of the column was continued by Lederer's editors, Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, under the name Annie's Mailbox. Thus, the Annie's Mailbox column began on July 28, 2002 in approximately 800 newspapers.[6][7][8]

Annie's Mailbox was syndicated in numerous newspapers throughout the US, until June 30, 2016. On that date, Mitchell and Sugar, wrote "...we say farewell. It is time for us to step aside and take advantage of opportunities neither of us has had the time for until now." They also introduced columnist Annie Lane, known as Dear Annie.[9]

Change in writerEdit

Pauline Phillips wrote the column herself until 2000, at which time her daughter Jeanne Phillips began officially writing the column with her. Jeanne Phillips became the sole author in August 2002, also announcing that her mother had Alzheimer's disease.

Pauline Phillips died on January 16, 2013, aged 94.[10]

In popular cultureEdit

A fictional version of Dear Abby was used in the second episode of The Brady Bunch called "Dear Libby" where someone had written a letter signed "Harried And Hopeless". Both the boys and the girls had thought that either their new father or their new mother was unhappy with the current living situation.

On the album Bedtime for Democracy, the Dead Kennedys have a song titled "Dear Abby".

John Prine wrote a song called 'Dear Abby' for his 1973 album Sweet Revenge.

Dear Abby was name dropped in the song "Roll with the Punches" by the Young MC, who rapped "She wanted advice and she was coming to me / I said you need Dear Abby not the Young MC."

In November of 2018, Minnesota voters elected Dean Phillips to the US Congress, the grandson of Pauline "Dear Abby", to represent their state.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "About Dear Abby". uExpress ( Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Advice Columnist Ann Landers Leaves Chicago Sun-Times for rival Tribune". The Telegraph. Associated Press. February 14, 1987. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  3. ^ "'Dear Abby' moves from Tribune to Sun-Times, APFN". Associated Press. June 1, 2009. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  4. ^ Langer, Emily (January 17, 2013). "Pauline Phillips, better known as 'Dear Abby,' dies at 94". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  5. ^ Judd, Robin. "Ann Landers biography". Jewish Virtual Library.
  6. ^ "Ann Landers Last Column". CBS News. July 27, 2002. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  7. ^ Astor, Dave (January 13, 2003). "Who's Answering 'Annie's Mailbox'?". Editor & Publisher.
  8. ^ Potempa, Philip (August 10, 2012). "Annie's Mailbox syndicated advice columnists celebrate a decade of answering life's questions". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  9. ^ Mitchell, Kathy; Sugar, Marcy (June 30, 2016). "Living Our Lives to the Fullest". Creators Syndicate. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  10. ^ Martinez, Michael (March 7, 2013). "Pauline Phillips, longtime Dear Abby advice columnist, dies at 94". CNN.

External linksEdit