Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Woman of Letters 

Advice columnist gets a tepid profile at the Cleveland Play House

When you write a play about a real person, chances are you don't want the audience to leave the theater thinking, "Hmm, I bet she was a lot more interesting than that."

This is unfortunately the smaller-than-life treatment given to Eppie Friedman Lederer, who wrote a famed advice column as Ann Landers, in the Cleveland Play House production of The Lady With All the Answers.

This one-person show fills two acts with plenty of weird letters from troubled people (or pranksters), but playwright David Rambo stubbornly refuses to delve deeper into Lederer's inner psyche. The result is an evening of easy titters and pre-chewed humor but scant insight into one of the most influential newspaper columnists of the second half of the 20th century. 

Eppie and her twin sister Pauline (who became the doyenne of the competitively syndicated "Dear Abby" advice column), had an ongoing professional and personal feud for years. But the seriousness of that split is shrugged off in this play with a couple of short phone calls between the two gals.  

Most of the time is taken up with Eppie trying to overcome writer's block as she attempts to craft a column announcing her impending divorce. Married 36 years to Julius Lederer, the founder of Budget Rent a Car, Eppie is caught between her rage at his affair with a young woman and her long-standing opposition to divorce.  

But even though she's onstage for a long time, Rambo never has Eppie explain why she never worked to save her treasured marriage. Instead, we get a ton of winks and knowing asides as she reads letters from folks who like to screw while wearing a motorcycle helmet or clean house in the nude. 

As directed by Seth Gordon, Mimi Kennedy creates a warm and feisty presence for Eppie that feels very comfortable. But the whole show is too comfy by half, lacks dramatic tension and actually minimizes her significant contributions to the discussion of controversial issues such as homosexuality and the Vietnam War.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • 78th Street Studios Third Friday Art Walk @ 78th Street Studios

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation