Ann Landers, the famed syndicated advice columnist, was born Esther Pauline Friedman to Russian immigrants Abraham and Rebecca Friedman in Sioux City, Iowa, on July 4, 1918. 17 minutes later, her twin sister, Pauline Esther, was born.
After graduating high school in 1936, she went on to meet her future husband Jules Lederer (who helped found Budget Rent-A-Car) in 1938. In a double wedding with her sister, Esther was married to Lederer in 1939. They eventually had a single daughter named Margo.
Jules Lederer was a salesman, so Esther and he travelled a lot. After moving to Eau Claire, Wisconsin from New Orleans, Louisiana, Esther became active in politics, also serving as Democratic Party county chair, which put her in contact with some influential people. The couple then eventually moved to Chicago, Illinois, and Esther contacted Wilbur Munnecke of Field Enterprises to find out if Sun Times columnist Ann Landers needed an assistant. After the death of Ann Landers, Esther Lederer assumed her identity and took over the column. Her first column appeared on October 16, 1955.
Three months after Esther became Ann Landers, her sister started her own column titled "Dear Abby", where Pauline Esther became known as Abigail Van Buren. The competition sparked intense animosity between the two, and they feuded for several years before publicly reconciling in 1964. Esther divorced her husband Jules in 1975.
By 1993, Ann Landers was the most widely syndicated columnist, counting approximately 90 million readers every day, across 1,200 newspapers around the world. She dispensed her advice via typewriter, because she just didn't like computers.
Esther Pauline Lederer died on June 22, 2002 at the age of 83, after a 47-year career as Ann Landers.