Heartbroken in Louisville! The last direct link to the greatest advice columnist ever has been severed

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, who for 14 years wrote the syndicated “Annie’s Mailbox” column for The Courier-Journal and hundreds of other outlets, called it quits today. They started as the long-time editors of the original “Ann Landers” column, written for nearly 50 years by the late, great and ever-stylish Esther Pauline “Eppie” Lederer. (That’s her, top, with her trademark hair.)

“We’ve urged you to live your lives to the fullest,” Mitchell and Sugar told readers this morning. “Now it’s our turn.”

Annie's Mailbox smallerStarting tomorrow, Mitchell and Sugar are being replaced by the conveniently named “Annie Lane,” who will be writing a column called “Dear Annie.” Lane, who grew up in California, is a certified yoga instructor who also worked in sales at an Internet advertising startup; a law firm, and, before that, a federal magistrate. She’s written extensively for Creators Syndicate’s special sections.

The original Landers column was started in 1943 by Chicago Sun-Times writer Ruth Crowley. Lederer took it over in 1955, but declined to have a different writer continue the column after her death in 2002. (At the time, she lived in a $4.4 million, 16-room Lake Shore Drive co-op in Chicago with three — three! — maid’s rooms.)

Like de Havilland and Fontaine

Lederer’s identical twin sister Pauline Phillips wrote a similar column, “Dear Abby,” under the more highfalutin’ name Abigail Van Buren, which she started in San Francisco a few months after Lederer took over in Chicago. Their rivalry recalled one that divided actresses and identical twins Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. “As competing columnists they had a discordant relationship,” according to Wikipedia. “They reconciled publicly in 1964, but acrimony between them persisted.”

Lederer died June 22, 2002, at 83, after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma that January.

Phillips wrote her Dear Abby column until 2000, when her daughter Jeanne Phillips assumed responsibility — a job she still holds today. Pauline Phillips died Jan. 16, 2013, at 94, after having battled Alzheimer’s disease for 11 years.

We would have, too!

Syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage was such a fan, he paid $200 for Lederer’s typewriter and $175 for her desk when Butterfields held her estate auction in 2002.

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