Sunday, March 25, 2007

Margo Howard

DPC with Margo Howard at Michael's (3/07)
3.26.07 - Margo Howard, born Margo Lederer, is the daughter and only child of one of America’s most famous and widely read newspaper columnists, the late Eppie (for Esther) Pauline Friedman Lederer, known to the world as “Ann Landers.”  Mrs. Lederer’s twin sister, Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips also wrote a similar advice column under the name “Abigail Van Buren” (Dear Abby). So it is no surprise that Margo, who started out in the newspaper business working at the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Daily News, for several years, wrote an advice called for Slate for several years (“Dear Prudence”) and currently writes a similar column, entitled “Dear Margo” on Yahoo.com.

Margo grew up in Chicago where her father started Budget Rent-a-Car and where her mother wielded enormous social, political and business prominence which eventually extended to people all over the world. The only child, Margo, also had the good fortune to be treated adoringly by both parents, while at the same maintaining a balanced demeanor. Meaning: she wasn’t spoiled into the mindless orbit of self-entitlement. The result is a very friendly and welcoming personality who meets people and makes one’s acquaintance easily.

The brainy kid went to Brandeis which began a long correspondence between daughter and mother, part of which Margo  published four years ago (November 2003) in “Ann Landers In Her Own Words”  She left Brandeis without graduating to marry business man John Coleman with whom she had three children, two sons and a daughter. Coleman was the first of four marriages including actor Ken Howard, her third husband, and Dr. Ronald Weintraub, a Boston surgeon to whom she is married today, and with whom she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I met Margo’s mother Eppie Lederer in Los Angeles in the 1980s, when we were mutual friends of Edie Goetz. Eppie Lederer had a very crisp, dynamic, authoritative yet warm personality. Always immaculately groomed, with excellent posture adding to her bearing, you could imagine her directing traffic on a moment’s notice if the task were ever required of her -- and with ease. She was a woman who enjoyed an eclectic and high-gear social life that forged connections with the rich and the powerful all over America – rare for any newspaperperson no matter their beat let alone an “advice” column. I saw her interviewed not long before she died (at 85) five years ago.

She was asked if after a lifetime of receiving all kinds of letters, millions of letters seeking advice, , did it make her more“conservative”? 

“No,” she replied that, “to the contrary,” after a lifetime of being exposed to the personal thoughts and problems of people, it had made her “more open minded” for she had learned that human behavior is human behavior and much of it in need of tolerance.

Margo the daughter, now with grown children and grandchildren has much of that crispness, authority and warmth of her mother although far less interested in the world of the celebrated. She also has much of her mother’s “open-mindedness.”