Pauline "Dear Abby" Phillips (1918-2013)

Decades ago, a smart housewife named Pauline Phillips who thought there might be more than mah-jongg to her life transformed herself into the syndicated columnist "Dear Abby," becoming a trusted, tart-tongued advisor to tens of millions.<br><br>
In a time before the Internet (hard to imagine, we know), her column's  influence on American culture was huge; in popular parlance, Dear Abby was an affectionate synonym for trustworthy, friendly advice. How did she do it?<br><br>
"I learned how to listen," she told a newspaper interviewer years later. "Sometimes, when people come to you with a problem, the best thing you can do is listen."<br><br>
Phillips is seen above in an undated file photo.

( AFP/Getty Images / January 17, 2013 )

Decades ago, a smart housewife named Pauline Phillips who thought there might be more than mah-jongg to her life transformed herself into the syndicated columnist "Dear Abby," becoming a trusted, tart-tongued advisor to tens of millions.

In a time before the Internet (hard to imagine, we know), her column's influence on American culture was huge; in popular parlance, Dear Abby was an affectionate synonym for trustworthy, friendly advice. How did she do it?

"I learned how to listen," she told a newspaper interviewer years later. "Sometimes, when people come to you with a problem, the best thing you can do is listen."

Phillips is seen above in an undated file photo.

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