Pauline Phillips, a California housewife who nearly 60 years ago, seeking something more meaningful than mah-jongg, transformed herself into the syndicated columnist Dear Abby – and in so doing became a trusted, tart-tongued adviser to tens of millions – died on Wednesday in Minneapolis. She was 94.
Her syndicate, Universal Uclick, announced her death on its Web site. A longtime resident of Beverly Hills, Calif., Mrs. Phillips, who had been ill with Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade, had lived in Minneapolis in recent years to be near family.
If Damon Runyon and Groucho Marx had gone jointly into the advice business, their column would have read much like Dear Abby’s. With her comic and flinty yet fundamentally sympathetic voice, Mrs. Phillips helped wrestle the advice column from its weepy Victorian past into a hard-nosed 20th-century present:
Dear Abby: I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can’t afford to spend a lot of money to do it. Have you any suggestions? – M.J.B. in Oakland, Calif.
Dear M.J.B.: Yes. Run for a public office.
Read more at the NEW YORK TIMES.