Sisterhood Blog

Dear Abby, You Were One Impressive Gal

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Wikimedia Commons

I am not generally a fan of the term “gal,” but what other word can be used to describe Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips, the beloved creator and author of Dear Abby, who died last week at age 94? With a legion of fans worldwide — the column is carried by 1,400 newspapers and has a daily readership of 110 million people, according to its syndication service — Dear Abby was surely the most widely-read Jewish female writer in the world, an accomplishment all the more impressive considering that she had expected only to be a wife and a mother.

She sought out a career as an advice columnist after helping out her sister Eppie, who had started the Ann Landers advice column, and realized she wanted more from life than to be a bored housewife, she said. Her New York Times obituary describes her as “a trusted, tart-tongued adviser to tens of millions,” who responded to the many letters appealing for her advice in a way which was “often genteely risqué.”

Her column is now written by her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, and receives some 10,000 letters a week, according to its syndication service, Universal Uclick.

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