Abigail Van Buren known as Dear Abby to many, was born July 4, 1918. Her given name was Pauline Esther Friedman. She was born in Sioux City, Iowa 17 minutes after her twin sister, Esther Pauline Friedman. She and her sister grew up in Sioux City, Iowa. They were very close to begin with. They went to Central High School in Sioux City, Iowa. Then they went on to Morningside College together.
The two sisters had a joint wedding in 1939 at the age of 21 years. Abigail married Morton Phillips and had one son, Edward Jay Phillips, and one daughter, Etta Jeanne Phillips. Pauline and her sister were the only children of their parents who were Russia Jewish immigrants. Abigail Van Buren had the nickname of Popo while growing up. Popo was short for Pauline. Her sister, Esther had the nickname of Eppie.
These two sisters became rival columnist. Abigail Van Buren (Pauline) became Dear Abby, and her twin, Esther, became Ann Landers. They fought a lot through out the years and some say they were not on speaking terms when Esther died in 2002. They may have made up but it is hard to say for sure because Abigail Van Buren had begun to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease that same year.
It was said that the two sisters made a public reconciliation in 1964. Although some say the contending continued. Both Abigail’s husband and daughter assure the public that the two sisters Pauline and Esther- Dear Abby and Ann Landers- had made up before Esther’s death. Unfortunately because of her Alzheimer’s Abigail may not actually know her sister Esther is dead.
When Abigail began to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, her daughter Jeanne Philips took over the column and continues to write as Dear Abby. Mother and daughter did have a time when they were both working on the column. When Abigail Van Buren’s Alzheimer’s disease was too bad to continue writing, Jeanne took over completely. When Pauline Esther Friedman chose her pen name for Dear Abby, she combined two names. She took Abigail from the book of Samuel in the bible and Van Buren came from the former U.S. President Martin Van Buren.
Abigail Van Buren had not written professionally until 1956. This is when she went into the San Francisco Chronicle’s editor and told him she could write a better advice column than what he had. So the editor gave her an interview and asked her to give some replies to a few letters the paper had received. She wrote responses to the editors liking and her Dear Abby was syndicated within two months. Abigail Van Buren was an instant success with her Dear Abby advise column. In 1956 Abigail Van Buren offered her column to the Sioux City Journal at a reduced price, providing the paper refuse Esther Lederers column. This did not help with the sister rivalry.
Abigail Van Buren has also written four best sellers among her non-fiction books. She has the Best of Dear Abby and Dear Abby on Planning Your Wedding among her writings. She has also received many public service awards. Especially for her public-health issues she publicized. Her column became internationally syndicated and she had dedicated followers. Many loved her and the advice she gave.
Abigail Van Buren has given many quotes in her Dear Abby advice column. Some of her famous quotes are: A bad habit never disappears miraculously; it’s an undo-it-yourself project. Fighting fire with fire only gets you ashes! If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we’d all be millionaires.
Abigail Van Buren is currently living. She has health issues with her Alzheimer’s disease. Her daughter Jeanne stated in 2006 that her disease was at its middle stages.