ANN LANDERS Biography - People in the News and Media


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Name: Ann Landers                                                                         
Born: 4 July 1918                                                                         
Died: 22 June 2002                                                                         
Esther "Eppie" Pauline Friedman Lederer (July 4, 1918 - June 22, 2002) was much           
better known to the public as Ann Landers because of her popular syndicated               
advice column, "Ann Landers." For about 45 years, the column was a regular                 
feature in many newspapers across North America. People would write her letters           
to seek her advice concerning their personal problems, and she would publish her           
advice in her columns. Her writing style was direct, and often critical. She               
would often upbraid a letter-writer with the quip, "Watch it, bub!" Her stated             
opinions often seemed customized to appeal to her predominantly female                     
The original "Ann Landers" was Ruth Crowley, a Chicago nurse who wrote the                 
syndicated column for 26 newspapers from 1942 until her death (at age 48) on               
July 20, 1955. Eppie won a contest to become the new writer of the column,                 
debuting on October 16, 1955. The column opened with a letter from a "Non-Eligible         
Bachelor", who despaired of getting married. Her advice was "You're a big boy             
now... don't let spite ruin your life". Lederer went on to advise thousands               
of other readers over the next several decades. Eventually, she became owner of           
the copyright. She chose not to have a different writer continue the column               
after her death; so the "Ann Landers" column ceased after publication of the few           
weeks' worth of material which she had written before her death.                           
Eppie sometimes expressed unpopular opinions in her column, e.g. she repeatedly           
favored legalization of prostitution and was pro-choice, yet denounced Madalyn O'Hair.     
After Eppie's death, the longtime editors of the "Ann Landers" column, Kathy               
Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, started writing the "Annie's Mailbox" column.                   
Eppie had an identical twin sister, Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips ("Popo"),             
who was 17 minutes younger than Eppie. The twins were daughters of Russian                 
Jewish immigrants, and grew up in Sioux City, Iowa. Both sisters were alumnae of           
Morningside College, and both wrote for the college's newspaper. They were then           
fond of each other, and at their age 21 in 1939, they had a joint wedding                 
Eppie was married to Julius Lederer, a business executive. For many years, the             
Lederers' home was in Chicago, where they owned a large, well-furnished                   
apartment. Eppie often said that she exercised regularly by walking the length             
of her apartment several times a day.                                                     
In March 1940, she gave birth to her first and only child, Margo. In 1944, Eppie's         
mother, Rebecca Friedman, died of cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 56. Julius             
had been conscripted for the war then, and Eppie and Margo had been living with           
Eppie's parents.                                                                           
Julius and Eppie divorced in 1975. In her column of July 1, 1975, Eppie wrote, "The       
sad, incredible fact is, that after 36 years of marriage, Julius and I are being           
divorced." She received 30,000 sympathetic letters in response.                           
While Eppie wrote the "Ann Landers" column, her twin sister wrote a similar               
personal advice column, "Dear Abby", under the name, Abigail Van Buren.                   
As competing columnists, the two sisters had a discordant relationship. They               
publicly reconciled in 1964, but acrimony between them persisted. Just a few               
years before Eppie's death, they were not on speaking terms. They were said to             
have reconciled before Eppie's death, but the reconciliation seems questionable           
in view of the fact that "Abby" was and is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.             
Eppie's daughter, Margo, was formerly married to actor Ken Howard. After their             
divorce, professionally she retained her last name, Howard. She has three                 
children. In the 1990s, she wrote a personal advice column, "Dear Prudence".               
Currently, she writes the advice column, "Dear Margo".                                     
A collection of correspondence between Eppie and Margo was published after Eppie's         
Eppie was in good health almost all her life. She died of multiple myeloma in             
2002 at the age of 83. (Her ex-husband, Julius, died on January 21, 1999.)                 
After Eppie's death, Dan Savage, author of the salacious sex column, Savage Love,         
and editor of The Stranger, bought her desk.                                               
In 2002, the Chicago City Council passed a two-page resolution to honor Eppie             
for epitomizing Chicago "with her strong opinion, her sage advice, her                     
impeccable manners, and quick wit", and announced that a street sign, "Ann 'Eppie'         
Landers Way", would be installed at the corner of North Michigan Avenue and East           
Illinois Street, in front of the Chicago Tribune Tower, the headquarters of her           
home paper since 1987.