Ann Landers



Esther “Eppie” Pauline Friedman and her twin sister, Pauline Esther, were born in Sioux City, Iowa on July 4



Eppie and Pauline attended Morningside College, where they wrote a gossip column for the college newspaper



Eppie and Pauline married their husbands in a double-wedding ceremony on July 2. Eppie becomes Eppie Lederer



The advice column first appeared in the Chicago Sun Times, written by Ruth Crowley



Eppie entered and won a contest to write the Ask Ann Landers column after Crowley’s death. She debuted on October 16



Eppie announced her divorce from her husband in her column on July 1



Eppie was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in January and died on June 22  (Age 83)

Which Ask Ann Landers is 100?


Ann Landers

The first Ann Landers, Ruth Crowley, chose the Chicago Sun-Times pen name in 1943. By 1955, the column was so popular, Ruth had become deluged with unanswered letters. Esther Pauline (Eppie) Lederer, heard of the overflow and offered to help. After being told Ruth had recently died, Eppie entered a contest sponsored by the Chicago Sun-Times to replace Ruth. She got the job in 1955 and worked until her death in 2002.


What to Know About Ann Landers

The most famous Ann Landers, Esther Pauline (Eppie) Lederer, was born in 1918, 17 minutes before her twin sister, Pauline Esther (Popo). She was raised in Sioux City, IA where she also attended college. She and Popo wrote a gossip column for the Morningside College newspaper. The girls were married in 1939 in a double-wedding, with Eppie marrying businessman, Julius (Jules) Lederer. They lived in Chicago where she eventually took over Ask Ann Landers from Ruth Crowley by winning a competition. As the daughter of a theater-owning entrepreneur, Eppie had made some high-profile friends over the years; therefore, she was able to answer the “test” letters with advice from priest and educator Theodore Hesburgh and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.


Ask Ann Landers

The first question, the new Ann Landers answered was from “Non-Eligible Bachelor” who wondered why he couldn’t get married. Her response? “You’re a big boy now . . . don’t let spite ruin your life.” She answered questions for 47 years for over 90 million readers. And, her answers matured with societal changes. She supported gun control abortion rights and the legalization of prostitution at the same time she supported experimentation on animals. And she was not afraid to be blunt – particularly with “obtuse men.”


Taboo Topics

Who remembers the short, column-ending remarks, such as, “Note to J.M. in Wyoming: You need legal help, and you need it immediately. Good luck, and let me know how things work out.” These were answers to questions she found too explicit to print. However, she wasn’t afraid to take on AIDS, homosexuality, and civic participation – although she shied away from offering opinions on politics or religion – until the war in Vietnam, which she opposed.


Free Therapy & Marital Advice

While psychiatrist and psychologists were becoming more popular in US culture, Ann Landers answered personal questions with empathy and common sense. She coined phrases that are still used today: “Forty-lashes with a wet noodle” and “Wake up and smell the coffee.” She even published letters critical to her own advice and ordered that she be lashed with the wet noodles. Ann Landers was insistent that people in troubled marriages seek counseling before deciding on divorce – particularly if there were children involved. This attitude changed in 1975 when she learned that her husband had been in an extra-marital relationship for several years. She subsequently separated from and divorced him. As was her way, she was open about her marriage in her column and received thousands of letters in support.


Final Columns

Eppie was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in January 2002 and refusing treatment, died in June 2002. Soon after, her editors, Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, began writing Annie’s Mailbox.


Did You Know?

  • The first Ann Landers was Ruth Crowley who answered questions from 1943 until 1955.
  • Eppie and her twin sister, Pauline Phillips, were estranged for a number of years because Pauline became Dear Abby, a direct competitor.
  • Eppie’s daily exercise consisted of her walking the length of her large 14-room Chicago apartment several times a day.
  • Annie’s Mailbox – the asked for continuation of Ask Ann Landers – lasted until June 2016.



Read some letters answered by Ann

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