RIP Dear Abby

For decades one of the cultural icons in the U.S. was the one and only Dear Abby. If one bought an English newspaper in a foreign country, you would not find most of the standard American fare of comics and sports. However, You would find Dear Abby or her sister Ann Landers. They both wrote advice columns which were syndicated throughout U.S. Newspapers. Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers were the daughters of Jewish immigrants who emigrated from Russia. Their parents came to the U.S. early in the 20th century. Her parents settled in Sioux City, Iowa and were successful enterprenuers in running, what was then a new industry, a movie theater business. For the record, Abigail Van Buren was born Pauline Friedman. Her identical twin sister, Ann Landers, was born Esther Friedman. Ann Landers passed away a decade ago. Dear Abby was the more flippant of the two sisters. Her advice replies were shorter and funnier. As Shakespears said, “brevity is the soul of wit”. However, as in all of life, Some people like Vanilla and some like Chocolate. Ann Landers was viewed as more homey and sweet. Her replies were longer and in the popular culture she was seen as more serious and not as much an entertainer. This view was unfair to both sisters. Even Identical twins have their differences. In the 1970’s Folk Singer John Prine wrote one of the greatest songs dedicated to a popular figure. He wrote the song Dear Abby. The song itself is hilarious. It has been a staple of folk musicians doing cover songs for decades. As a joke, someone sent into Dear Abby a verse from Prine’s song pretending, that it was a true letter. It is the second to last verse of the song and the lyrics are this.
Dear Abby, Dear Abby . You won’t believe this. My stomach makes noises, whenever I kiss. My Girl Friend tells me it is in all in my head, but my stomach tells me to write you instead. Signed Noisemaker
Dear Abby gave a serious answer to the verse above. When she was informed that the letter was, in fact, a fraud and that the letter was gleaned from lyrics of a song, Dear Abby responded with humor and class. Dear Abby responded that she hadn’t known of the song but was flattered that it had been written. Paula Friedman AKA as Abigail Van Buren Passed away on 1-17-2013 at the age of 94. ”

2 thoughts on “RIP Dear Abby”

  1. Just think, out of all the things that woman did in her life the only part that will serve as her legacy is the term Dear Abby, which if you had asked her was probably one of the least significant life experiences she had. Makes you think about what actions you take that will be remembered.

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