'Dear Abby' Criticized by Niece
The Associated Press
Jun. 28, 2002
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CHICAGO (AP) _ The daughter of advice columnist Esther Lederer, better known as Ann Landers, has accused her cousin, who writes the ``Dear Abby'' advice column, of trying to cash in on her mother's legacy, according to a published report.
``My mother has not been gone a full week yet, and I am highly offended by Jeanne Phillips' not-at-all-subtle move to make hay of my mother's death,'' Lederer's daughter, Margo Howard, told the Chicago Tribune in Thursday editions.
Her comments were prompted by Phillips' appearance Tuesday on CNN's ``Larry King Live'' show, where she expressed grief at her aunt's death.
Howard told the Tribune she had also learned that Dear Abby's distributor, Universal Press Syndicate, was offering a farewell letter from Phillips to her aunt to newspapers and other media.
``This is not about grief,'' said Howard, who writes an online advice column. ``This is about new clients.''
Phillips is the daughter of Lederer's twin sister, Pauline Phillips, originator of ``Dear Abby.'' The two column-writing sisters had a much-publicized feud.
Lederer died Saturday at her Chicago home at 83. The cause of death was multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer.
At stake in the wake of her death are the revenues from the newspapers that subscribed to the Ann Landers column.
A statement Wednesday from Universal Press Syndicate said Phillips had turned down several national TV shows to discuss her aunt's death, but felt obliged to fulfill an earlier commitment to appear on ``Larry King Live.''
``Her television appearance, flogging her `grief' at my mother's death, in addition to her `farewell' column, is beneath contempt,'' Howard said.