Beloved by millions throughout the world, advice columnist Ann Landers (1918-2002) was born Esther Pauline Friedman on this day in Sioux City, Iowa. She was the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants and her identical twin, Pauline Esther, called "Popo," wrote the rival "Dear Abby" column.
"The naked truth is always better than the best dressed lie," said Landers, whose friends called her Eppie.
She began her column in the Chicago Sun-Times in 1955, after winning a contest to replace the original Ann Landers, who had died. By 1993, she had become the world's most widely syndicated columnist, with nearly 90 million readers daily in 1,200 papers.
"All the column means to me is an opportunity to do good in the world," she said.
She wrote from her Chicago penthouse overlooking Lake Michigan, working from midnight until 4 in the morning. She used a typewriter because she just didn't like computers and often wrote while in the bathtub.
"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them," she said.
Outspoken, clever, and caring, she said of her popularity: "Iím the lady next door, their best friend, the mother they couldnít communicate with before, but they can now. Most of all, Iím a good listener."
After her death of multiple myeloma, colleague Bob Greene said: "There was absolutely no wall between Ann Landers and her readers. It went straight from her to them. I don't think there has ever been the kind of mutual trust and affection between writer and reader as there was with Eppie."
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