Sunday, January 8, 2012

This Day in History January 9, 1956

Abigail Van Buren

I am old enough to remember this very famous advice column--Dear Abby--and it was on this date in 1956 that it first appeared.  Pauline Esther Friedman had never written professionally until she  contacted  the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and said that she could write a better advice column than the one that was currently being featured.  She was called for an interview, and she submitted a few writing samples.  The editor liked it, and so began one of the most famous advice columns ever!

Here is a reprint of the original (notice the difference in spelling):

DEAR ABBEY: I have never written to a paper for advice before but need help desperately and cannot talk to my family or friends about my problem. I am a private secretary to a well-known executive in the Bay Area. I have been employed by him for five years. You may think this sounds cheap, but we are deeply in love. His wife speaks to him only when she wants money, and he has no respect or affection for her. He has told me repeatedly that I am the woman he loves but we can't consider marriage because it would ruin him financially and socially. In addition to an excellent salary, he has given me an automobile, a fur coat and he pays my rent. When he takes business trips, I always go along. I am not getting any younger, yet I feel one day he will make me his wife. What do you think? CONFIDENT DEAR CONFIDENT: I think your boss is a super salesman! He certainly did a terrific job when he convinced an intelligent girl like you to give up a decent, respectable life of her own to be available when he whistles. Of course he won't marry you. Why should he? He is getting the whole show for the price of the amusement tax. DEAR ABBEY: I have been going with a man since June. Although there is quite a big difference in our ages, we like each other a lot. He gave me a diamond ring for Christmas. How can I tell if the diamond is real? H.P.L. DEAR H.P.L.: If there is any doubt about whether or not the diamond is real, you'd better find out if the MAN is real! When a girl accepts a ring from a man, it usually means they are engaged to be married. I hope you realize that you are engaged to marry a man you do not fully trust. Any jeweler can answer your question by simply looking at the ring. DEAR ABBEY: Maybe you can suggest something to help my sister. She is married to a real heel. He is 6 feet 3 and weighs 240, and she is 5 feet and weighs 106. He has a terrible temper and frequently knocks the daylights out of her. Their marriage is really a mess. L.L. DEAR L.L.: I admit your sister is no match for her heavyweight husband, but I've seen smaller gals flatten out bigger guys than this with just one look. If your sister has been letting this walrus slap her around frequently, maybe she likes it. Stay out of their family battles, Chum. When the girl who is taking it on the chin complains, I'll know she needs my suggestions. DEAR ABBEY: I am sweet 16 and truly never have been kissed. I have plenty of dates and the boys seem to enjoy my company, but when it comes time to say good night, all they do is just say "good night." Please tell me how I can become irresistible? HOPEFUL ANN DEAR ANN: If you become "irresistible" at 16, you'll need police protection by the time you reach 20. If you are looking for a goodnight kiss, the likes of which would melt a glacier, it's too early. However, if you want the innocent, customary goodnight kiss, hold your little cheek up, close your eyes and boom - ! You're irresistible. Write to Abigail Van Buren in care of The Chronicle. She will be glad to help you solve your problems.

What some people do not know (and I didn't until I happened to overhear it on some news program when I was growing up) is that her twin sister was Ann Landers, the other famous advice columnist.  They had an ongoing rivalry throughout their professional life.

I also did not realize that "Abby's" daughter took over the advice column when her mother's health began to decline.  She was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:
For more information than I would choose to put in this blog post, please check out these links:

1 comment:

  1. What fascinating information about these two famous advice columnists. I had no idea they were sisters! I always read both of their columns when I would see them. The advice was usually right to the point! Thanks for sharing!



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