Renowned agony aunt Ann Landers dies at 83
CHICAGO -- Reputed to be the world's most widely read columnist, agony aunt
Ann Landers, who famously urged her readers to "wake up and smell the
coffee", has died at the age of 83.
The Chicago Tribune, which had been her home base since 1987, said she died
in her Chicago home on Saturday of multiple myeloma - a bone marrow tumor.
Her real name was Esther "Eppie" Pauline Friedman Lederer, and according to
the Tribune her column was for 40 years the world's best read and most
widely syndicated - carried by 1,200 newspapers.
"Wake up and smell the coffee" may have been the most famous of her
one-liners. It was also the title of one of her books, and set the tone for
decades of no-nonsense advice giving.
Landers reinvented the newspaper advice column with a saucy and succinct wit.
Dispensing guidance that ranged from the practical to the expert, and
covering topics from sex to religion, her column reached an estimated 90
million people daily.
Landers, along with twin sister Pauline Phillips writing as Abigail Van
Buren under the "Dear Abby" title, dominated the advice-giving genre in US
newspapers during most of the last half of the 20th century. She tackled
issues ranging from cancer research to Aids and gun control, using as a
springboard letters from readers which flooded her office by the thousands.
She was said to have spent up to 14 hours a day reading her mail.
Landers, born in Sioux City, Iowa, on July 4, 1918, started delivering her
daily doses of guidance in 1955 when she took over the Ann Landers column
in the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. In 1987, her column moved to the
Chicago Tribune syndicate.
She once said in an interview that she contacted an executive she knew at
the then parent company of the Sun-Times, offering to help with the Ann
Landers column, saying her answers were better than those in print. It
turned out the column's author had died and the paper needed a replacement.
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