Pauline Phillips, a.k.a. beloved advice columnist Dear Abby, has died

Pauline Phillips who, for decades, enchanted readers with her snappy advice-column answers under the moniker Dear Abby, died yesterday in Minneapolis, MN.

Ms. Phillips began her advice-giving career by helping her identical twin sister, Esther (Eppie) who had launched her own popular newspaper advice column in 1955 for The Chicago Sun-Times. Eppie, whose professional name was Ann Landers, was swamped with instant popularity so Pauline started helping out. When the latter saw how well-received her signature witty answers were, she launched her own syndicated column in The San Francisco Chronicle the following year.

Reader demand for the sisters' advice columns eventually created a rift between the two writers which caused a five-year estrangement followed by reconciliation in the 1960s.

Abby liked to claim that she was more popular than Ann Landers because the latter never mastered the art of the short zinger. In response to this question to Abby -- "Are birth control pill deductible?" -- she answered, "Only if they don't work."

Ms. Phillips' daughter, Jeanne Phillips, began helping her mother with her column in the late 1980s. By 2000, with Abby's health failing, Jeanne officially took on the column.

Pauline Phillips, who suffered from Alzheimer's for many years, was 94.