Ann Landers took credit for coining the phrase ”wake up and smell the coffee.” It was the title of one of her half-dozen or so best-selling books, spun off from the plainspoken advice column she wrote for 47 years. By the time she died on Saturday, her daily dispensing of common-sense counsel reached 90 million readers and drew 2,000 letters a day. She died of multiple myeloma (bone marrow tumors) at 83 in the Chicago apartment where she wrote her column, according to published reports.
Landers, whose real name was Esther Pauline ”Eppie” Lederer, was actually the second woman to write under that byline. A wealthy housewife who had never published a word, she won a contest held by the Chicago Sun-Times to replace the first advice columnist to use that pen name, who died in 1955. Lederer ultimately broadened the franchise to make herself one of the most widely read advice columnists in the country, rivaled only by her twin sister, Abigail Van Buren (Pauline Esther ”Popo” Phillips), who started her ”Dear Abby” column a few months after Lederer started writing ”Ann Landers.”
Lederer famously said that the column and the byline would die with her, that there would not be a third ”Ann Landers.” Instead, her syndicate will offer a column called ”Ann’s Mailbox,” written by her editors, Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, the Associated Press reports. That column will debut sometime after July 27, when the last of the original columns Lederer had finished before her death will run.