Eppie Lederer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Eppie Lederer
Ann Landers.jpg
Publicity photo in 1961
Born Esther Pauline Friedman
(1918-07-04)July 4, 1918
Sioux City, Iowa, U.S.
Died June 22, 2002(2002-06-22) (aged 83)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Pen name Ann Landers
Occupation Personal advice columnist,
author, radio host
Alma mater Morningside College
Spouse Julius Lederer (m. 1939–1975)
Children Margo (b. 1940)
Relatives Pauline Phillips (twin sister)

Esther Pauline "Eppie" Lederer née Friedman (July 4, 1918 – June 22, 2002), better known by the pen name Ann Landers, was an American advice columnist and eventually a nationwide media celebrity. She began writing the "Ask Ann Landers" column in 1955 and continued for 47 years, by which time its readership was 90 million people. A 1978 World Almanac survey named her the most influential woman in the United States.[1] She was the identical twin sister of Pauline Phillips, who wrote the "Dear Abby" advice column as Abigail Van Buren.

Lederer was a profile-raiser for several medical charities, and in 1977 President Carter appointed her to a six-year term on a cancer advisory board.

Early life and relationship with sister Pauline[edit]

Born in Sioux City, Iowa, Esther Pauline and her identical sister Pauline Esther ("Popo", who was 17 minutes younger) were daughters of Russian Jewish emigrants Rebecca Friedman (née Rushall) and Abraham B. Friedman. They grew up in Sioux City and attended its Morningside College for three and a half years (1936–39), where they wrote a gossip column for the college's newspaper. Eppie majored in journalism and psychology.[2]

During Lederer's career writing the Ann Landers column, her sister wrote a similar personal advice column, "Dear Abby", under the name Abigail Van Buren, which she initiated in San Francisco a few months after Eppie took over as Ann Landers in Chicago. As competing columnists they had a discordant relationship. They reconciled publicly in 1964, but acrimony between them persisted.[3] Just a few years before Eppie's death, they were not on speaking terms.[citation needed]

In her later years, Lederer wrote her column at home, sometimes while in the bathtub. She had numerous friends and was a regular part of the Chicago social scene.[citation needed]

Marriage and family life[edit]

In July 1939, at the age of 21, Eppie and Popo were married in a double-wedding ceremony on their birthday. Eppie was married to Jules or Julius Lederer, who became a business executive; Popo married Morton Phillips of Minneapolis.[4]

For many years, the Lederers lived in Chicago, where they owned a large, well-furnished apartment. Lederer often said that she exercised regularly by walking the length of her apartment several times a day.[citation needed]

In March 1940, she gave birth to her only child, Margo, who became an advice columnist herself almost 60 years later, as Margo Howard. In 1944, at the age of 56, Lederer's mother Rebecca Friedman died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Julius had been conscripted for the war; she and Margo had been living with the Friedmans.[citation needed]

Between 1945 and 1949, Lederer was chairwoman of the Minnesota-Wisconsin council of the Anti Defamation League.

Eppie becomes Ann[edit]

In Chicago, 1983

Ruth Crowley, the creator of the Chicago Sun-Times‍ '​ Ask Ann Landers column, died in 1955. During her nine years writing the column, intermittently from 1943, Crowley's identity had been kept secret. Lederer won a contest to take over the column later that year, and took on the identity.[clarification needed] Long before the end of her 47 years as Ann Landers, she had become a North American media celebrity, having appeared on television[2] and traveled the continent to media and charity events. In her later years, Lederer began answering questions about homosexuality and other topics that had once been taboo in print. In a 1993 interview, she said she was happy for the passing of restrictions she had to work under in the 1950s.[citation needed]

From the early 1970s until her death, Lederer lived at 209 East Lake Shore Drive, in a 14-room, high-rise apartment.[citation needed]

Julius and Eppie divorced in 1975. In her column of July 1, 1975, Lederer wrote, "The sad, incredible fact is, that after 36 years of marriage, Jules and I are being divorced." She received 30,000 sympathetic letters in response.[5]

Death and legacy[edit]

Lederer was in good health almost all her life. She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in January 2002 and died on June 22, having refused any medical treatment for her condition. Her former husband had died on January 21, 1999.[6]

After Lederer's death, her longtime editors Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar started writing the Annie's Mailbox column. Lederer's desk was purchased by Dan Savage, author of the relationship-and-sex advice column Savage Love.[7]

In 2002, the Chicago City Council passed a two-page resolution to honor Lederer 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. The nicknaming of the street was celebrated with a parade and sparklers—a favorite of hers.[citation needed]

In 2003, a collection of correspondence between Lederer and her daughter was published.[8]

In 2006, David Rambo wrote a play about the life and work of Lederer as Ann Landers,.[9] The production was revived in 2008 at the Pasadena Playhouse in California, starring Mimi Kennedy.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Ann Landers, Advice Giver To the Millions, Is Dead at 83", New York Times, June 23, 2002.
  2. ^ a b Gudelunas, David (2007). Confidential to America: Newspaper Advice Columns and Sexual Education. Edison, NJ: Transaction. p. 234. ISBN 978-1-4128-0688-6. 
  3. ^ Ann Landers (1918-2002) by Robin Judd, Jewish Virtual Library. Accessed online June 21, 2007.
  4. ^ Ewing, Jody (August 23, 2001). "Daughter Helps Keep 'Abby' Ink Flowing". Ewing, Jody. Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  5. ^ Castro, Janice; Moritz, Michael; Nash, J. Madeline (January 19, 1981). "Press: Advice for the Lonely Hearts". TIME. Retrieved May 28, 2011. 
  6. ^ Rochman, Sue (Fall 2010). "Dear Ann Landers". CR Magazine. 
  7. ^ "Columnist Dan Savage on Valentine's Day, sex and monogamy". CBS News. February 15, 2015. 
  8. ^ Landers, Ann; Margo Howard (2003). A life in letters: Ann Landers's letters to her only child. Warner Books. p. 391. ISBN 978-0-446-53271-6. 
  9. ^ "The Lady With All the Answers". Pasadena Playhouse. 

External links[edit]