LEDERER (née Friedman), ESTHER PAULINE, (1918–2002), syndicated American columnist. Lederer was born in Sioux City, Iowa, to Russian Jewish immigrants. In 1955 she took over the Ann Landers column in the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1987, her home base became the Chicago Tribune. Her daily column "Ask Ann Landers" was syndicated in more than 1,200 newspapers and was said to be the most widely read column in the world, with an estimated 90 million readers. She is reported to have received more than 2,000 letters daily and was regarded as having had a considerable influence on public opinion. She once referred to herself as "typically upper middle-class Midwestern Jewish." Her generally conservative views included a constant warning against the perils of intermarriage, but she later adopted a more liberal attitude to questions of sex and divorce. She published some 12 pamphlets on social problems and, among other works, a lengthy volume, The Ann Landers Encyclopedia (1978), which deals with a wide variety of contemporary issues.
Lederer was the recipient of several awards, among them The Jane Addams Public Award Hull House and a citation from the AMA for distinguished service.
Lederer was married to Jules Lederer, who built the Budget-Rent-a-Car company. They divorced in 1975 after 36 years of marriage. Lederer's main rival in popularity as a nationwide columnist was her twin sister, Pauline Esther, who also wrote a syndicated column, "Dear Abby," under the name Abigail Van Buren. Books by Lederer include Since You Ask Me (1961); Gems (1988); and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (1996).
R. Kogan, America's Mom (2003); M. Howard, A Life in Letters: Ann Landers' Letters to Her Only Child (2003); J. Pottker and B. Speziale, Dear Ann, Dear Abby: The Unauthorized Biography of Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren (1987); D.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.