Dear Abby is the name of the notable advice column founded in 1956 by Pauline Phillips (born July 4, 1918) under the pen name, Abigail Van Buren, and carried on today by her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who now owns the legal rights to the pen name.
According to Pauline Phillips, she had come up with the pen name, Abigail Van Buren, by combining the name of the biblical character, Abigail, in the Book of Samuel with the last name of former U.S. President Martin Van Buren.
The column was syndicated by McNaught Syndicate from 1956 until 1966,when it moved to Universal Press Syndicate. Dear Abby's current syndication company claims the column is known for its "uncommon common sense and youthful perspective", and is read by more people than any other newspaper column worldwide.
The column's popularity
Every Web site mentioned in Dear Abby receives an immediate influx of viewers, and organizations mentioned are routinely encouraged to gear up to accept millions of hits. After a recent mention in Dear Abby almost 2 million publications were shipped from the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) at the request of her readers—an unprecedented response for the FCIC. (http://www.amuniversal.com/ups/features/dearabby/bio.htm)
The U.S. General Services Administration has recognized Abby twice in ceremonies in both Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and both times memorialized her achievements in the Congressional Record. (http://www.amuniversal.com/ups/features/dearabby/bio.htm)
Mentions in popular culture
- The day after Lyndon Johnson's landslide victory in the 1964 U.S. Presidential election, nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist Bill Mauldin drew a cartoon captioned "Dear Abby..." in which he showed Johnson's defeated opponent Barry Goldwater writing a letter. This incident is illustrative of the column's popularity.
- In 2002, Nick Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, noted "Yeah that dear Abby really knows what she's talking about. ..." http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0259446/quotes
- In 1964, "Dear Abby" was also the subject of a pop song with the same title, sung by The Hearts.
- In 1974, John Prine recorded a song called "Dear Abby" on his Sweet Revenge album.
- In 1986, the Californian punk group Dead Kennedys recorded "Dear Abby" for their album Bedtime For Democracy.
- The original version of "The Chanukah Song", contains the line "We got Ann Landers, and her sister Dear Abby", a reference to the Jewish heritage of the twins.
- The original Interplay project of Fallout 3 carried the name "Van Buren".