Esther was an identical twin; her sister, Pauline Esther Friedman, wrote the Dear Abby column as Abigail van Buren. As children, they went by the nicknames "Eppie" and "Popo".
Her home for many years was Chicago, Illinois, where she died of multiple myeloma.
The Ann Landers column was already being written, for the last few months of Friedman's life, for the most part by her daughter, Margo Coleman. It was decided ahead of time, however, that the column would not continue after Friedman's death.