Thursday, July 18, 2002
Kansas City, Mo. After sharing a byline, Jeanne Phillips will now be acknowledged as the sole writer of the Dear Abby advice column her mother created.
Pauline Phillips, 84, acknowledged in December 2000 that she had shared writing duties with Jeanne Phillips since 1987. A photo of the two of them appeared with the column in newspapers.
Now, Jeanne Phillips will get the sole writing credit.
"Over the past couple of years, Pauline Phillips hasn't had any day-to-day activities with the column," said Kathie Kerr, spokeswoman for the column's distributor, Universal Press Syndicate, based in Kansas City.
Kerr said Wednesday that questions arose after Jeanne Phillips was identified as the column's writer on "Larry King Live" and in newspaper stories.
"We had some editors question us about it, and we just felt like a clarification was needed," Kerr said.
Since Monday, readers have been told, "Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips," Kerr said.
Pauline Phillips began writing Dear Abby after her twin sister, Esther Lederer, began writing an advice column for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1955. Lederer, who wrote as Ann Landers, died June 22 at age 83.
The Dear Abby column made news earlier this year when a man wrote to about his sexual fantasies involving young girls. Jeanne Phillips turned him in, breaking the column's usual promise of anonymity for letter-writers. Phillips said she felt she needed to make sure the man didn't hurt anyone.
The man was sentenced last month to eight years' probation after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.