Tag Archives: San Francisco Chronicle

Jews of the Week: Dear Abby & Ann Landers

The Most Quoted Women in the World

Pauline Esther Phillips and Esther Pauline Lederer, aka. Abigail van Buren and Ann Landers

Pauline Esther Phillips (1918-2013) was born in Iowa to the Friedmans, poor Jewish immigrants from Russia. Despite their poverty, the Friedman home was always full of guests, where Pauline picked up both her humour and advice-giving abilities. She studied psychology and journalism in college, then moved to San Francisco, where she was unhappy with the advice column of the San Francisco Chronicle. Phillips phoned the newspaper’s editor and told him she could do a far better job. After seeing her samples, she was hired immediately – without any prior work experience or even a social security number! Pauline chose the pen name Abigail, after the Biblical prophetess who advised King David. Thus was born “Dear Abby”, the most-widely syndicated newspaper column of all time – read by over 110 million readers across 1400 newspapers. In 1963, Dear Abby also became a daily radio program that ran for 13 years. People around the world fell in love with Abby’s compassion, honesty, humour, and “tough love”, while learning about the most difficult of human and family problems. Phillips herself was devoted to her family, and was famous for her dedication to her husband and conservative family values – advising couples not to live together before marriage, and telling women to be strong in the face of “masculine lunacy”, with divorce a very last resort. Her own marriage lasted 73 years, until her death this past January at age 94, following a battle with Alzheimer’s. Most interestingly, Pauline Esther had a twin sister named Esther Pauline (1918-2002), who was also a journalist and wrote an advice column under the name Ann Landers – nearly as popular as Dear Abby, with over 90 million readers. Both sisters married on the same day, their birthday. Life magazine billed the two as the most “widely read and most quoted women in the world.”

Words of the Week

“He’s one of the greatest men I ever met, but he’ll be a Jew before I’m a Catholic.”
Pauline Phillips, aka Abby, referring to her friend, Bishop Fulton Sheen

Jew of the Week: Rube Goldberg

Rube Goldberg Machine

Rube Goldberg

Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg (1883-1970) was born in San Francisco and began drawing at age 4. He was obsessed with the art, but discouraged by his parents who sent him to study engineering. After earning $100 per month designing sewer systems, Goldberg realized it wasn’t what he wanted to do in life, so he quit to pursue his dream. He earned $8 per week drawing for the San Francisco Chronicle, most of which was thrown out and never used. Mainly, his job was sweeping floors and filing morgue photos. But Goldberg persisted, and was soon discovered when editors found that issues with his drawings sold more copies. Shortly after, Goldberg became a household name with his nationally syndicated comics like Mike & Ike, Lala Palooza and Sideshow. He was now earning $100,000 per year! During World War II, Goldberg drew infamous and controversial political cartoons. Though such cartoons would later earn him the Pulitzer Prize, he was forced to change his children’s last names. Inspired by the tech boom, Goldberg started designing various contraptions and inventions. He realized that people always do things the hard way, and to spoof this, drew cartoons of incredibly complex machines performing the simplest tasks, “a symbol of man’s capacity for exerting maximum effort to achieve minimal results.” These beloved, world-famous contraptions would be known as ‘Rube Goldberg Machines’. Goldberg was also a sculptor, author and screenwriter, and the first cartoonist whose work was featured at the Smithsonian Institute. The international Reuben Award for best cartoonists is named after him.

Words of the Week

The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.
– Plato