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Pauline Friedman Phillips, better known by her pen name, Abigail Van Buren, died on Thursday at age 94, after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer's. She was born 17 minutes after her identical twin sister, Esther Lederer, and published her first Dear Abby column in 1956, three months after Esther's debut as Ann Landers. In a 1996 column, she "informed" her readers that they should avoid throwing rice at weddings, lest birds eat it and explode.Such advice was erroneous, as milled rice is not harmful to birds. After Lederer died in June 2002, her last column ran on July 27.In some states this could be considered community property." The advice was mistaken because only gifts given after the marriage would be considered community property in some states (or else because wedding gifts—if so designated—can be considered back-dated gifts to the bride).The column has provided teaching material for law professors and law students.These columns are loved and widely read, by people you wouldn't expect. Dear Abby: What's the difference between a wife and a mistress? Dear Abby: About four months ago, the house across the street was sold to a "father and son" — or so we thought. That couldn't have happened without them." But as intertwined as the sisters' rival columns were, they "differed in style," says the 's Jocelyn Noveck. Then she showers, brushes her teeth and fixes our breakfast — still in the buff. We later learned it was an older man about 50 and a young fellow about 24. Abby, these weirdos are wrecking our property values!
Thus, the Annie's Mailbox column began on July 28, 2002, in approximately 800 newspapers.
Phillips chose her pen name from the Bible ("Then David said to Abigail 'Blessed is your advice and blessed are you'" —the Book of Samuel) and our eighth president (she liked the "old-family, presidential ring" of Van Buren, says Margalit Fox in . Go to your superior officer and say these 2 words: I'm Gay.
"The advice column was a backwater of the newspaper, and now it is so woven into our cultural fabric. But tell her to put on an apron when she's frying bacon. 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.
Lederer chose not to have a different writer continue the column after her death, so the "Ann Landers" column ceased after publication of the few weeks' worth of material which she had written before her death. She repeatedly favored legalization of prostitution and was pro-choice on abortion, yet denounced atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair.
Not till 1992 did she eventually reverse her opinion, and even then only after reviewing research and receiving nearly 75,000 letters that gays and lesbians wrote to her saying that they were happy being gay; she wrote that "it is my firm conviction that homosexuality is not learned behavior", adding that while being gay could be suppressed, it could not be altered.
"While Ann Landers responded to questioners with homey, detailed advice, Abby's replies were more flippant and occasionally risqué." Here's are some of Dear Abby's best one-liners, frisky or otherwise: Dear Abby: My boyfriend is going to be 20 years old next month. Dear Abby: I've been going steady with this man for six years. He says he loves me, and I know I love him, but he never mentions marriage. We're newlyweds and there are just the two of us, so I suppose there's really nothing wrong with it. This was a respectable neighborhood before this "odd couple" moved in. Men who look like women, women who look like men, blacks, whites, Indians. How can we improve the quality of this once-respectable neighborhood?