Ten years ago, Ann Landers died… for the second time.
Eppie Lederer, a.k.a. Ann Landers (Wikimedia Commons/Fred Palumbo)
The woman in the photo above is Eppie Lederer, but we know her best as Ann Landers. She wrote America's most famous advice column for 47 years, but she wasn't the first Ann Landers.
The pseudonym was created by Ruth Crowley, Lederer's predecessor at the Chicago Sun-Times. Crowley offered advice as Ann Landers for nine years before her death in 1955, always being careful not to reveal her true identity. She made the advice column so popular that after her death, her editors wanted it to go on – with the same pseudonym offering continuity to loyal readers.
While the Sun-Times ran a contest to find a new Ann Landers, a few interim writers held down the fort – and then came Eppie Lederer. "Ask Ann Landers" was popular under Ruth Crowley's care, but it became a sensation in the hands of Lederer. The advice veteran (she and her twin sister, Pauline "Dear Abby" Phillips, wrote a similar column for their college paper, and Pauline’s daughter Jeanne carries on the family tradition as the current Dear Abby) helped the lovelorn, the upset and the confused, expanding the column's syndication from just a few newspapers to hundreds.
Lederer wrote the column – often from home, and sometimes from her bathtub – until her death on June 22, 2002. At the time of her death, she had several columns pre-written, enough to last over a month. Even after they ran out, many newspapers continue to run her classic columns… ensuring that her straightforward advice will live on.
Written by Linnea Crowther