Esther Sullivan
Fictional Character
Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Novel only
Type of Appearance: Direct
Nationality: United States (born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire)
Religion: Judaism
Date of Birth: c. 1908
Occupation: Housewife
Parents: Istvan and Magda Polgar
Spouse: Charlie
Children: Sarah and Patrick

Esther Sullivan, née Polgar, was the wife of Charlie Sullivan, who served as speechwriter for President Joe Steele.

Esther had been born to a Jewish family in Hungary. She and her parents arrived in the United States just months before the outbreak of World War I.[1] Charlie's Irish Catholic parents hadn't been thrilled by the match (which took the pressure off of Charlie's brother Mike, who dated the Italian Stella Morandini at the same time).[2]

During the Democratic National Convention in July 1932, Charlie, who was employed by the Associated Press, was sent to cover the Convention in Chicago, which was quickly coming down to two front runners: Congressman Joe Steele of Fresno, who was secretly at the Convention in Chicago, and New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, until fire at the Executive Mansion that killed Roosevelt, his wife, and several others, leaving Steele the party nominee.[3]

As the 1932 election approached, Charlie shared with Mike, Stella, and Esther how he'd overheard Steele's aid, Vince Scriabin, relaying ambiguous orders on a long-distance phone call at the convention. Hours later, the fire that killed the Roosevelts broke out.[4] While all agreed that Charlie hadn't heard Scriabin specifically order the fire, they also agreed that it was possible that Scriabin was nonetheless giving the go-ahead.[5]

After Steele won and began implementing the Four Year Plan, Charlie Sullivan was impressed with Steele's momentum, and now was willing to presume Steele had nothing to do with the Roosevelts' death.[6] Esther tended to be more skeptical of Steele, and wasn't afraid of sharing her doubts with Charlie after they married in 1933.[7] She was adept at noticing specific word choices in Steele's speeches, for example, that hinted at Steele's more sinister intentions.[8] She didn't believe that the Supreme Court Four had actually been involved in treason.[9]

As the years passed, and Steele handily won a second term in 1936, Charlie continued to publicly support Steele, but he was still privately unnerved by Steele's creation of the GBI under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover in 1937.[10] Conversely, Esther continued to be suspicious of Steele, likening Hoover to Heinrich Himmler of Germany and Genrikh Yagoda of the Soviet Union.[11]

In the summer of 1937, Mike Sullivan published a piece entitled "Where is Our Freedom Going?", which harshly criticized Steele.[12] The GBI arrested Mike just after midnight. He was adjudicated and sentenced to a camp in Montana.[13] Mike's wife, Stella, reached out to Charlie for help. While Charlie did sit down with Stas Mikoian the next day and begged for his brother's release, Mikoian refused.[14] Charlie had no choice but to tell Stella and his own mother that he could do nothing for Mike.[15]

Ironically, as this horror was being inflicted on his family, Esther informed Charlie that she was pregnant.[16] She gave birth to their daughter Sarah nine months later.[17] In September 1938, Joe Steele hired Charlie to be his speechwriter.[18] In time, Charlie became one of Steele's inner circle. Through it all, Esther tried to be a voice of reason, often asking pointed questions about Steele's policies. She maintained this role until Steele's death in March 1953, a little more than a month into his sixth term.


  1. Joe Steele, pg. 34.
  2. Ibid., pg. 33.
  3. Ibid., pg. 18-21.
  4. Ibid., pgs. 36-37.
  5. Ibid., pg. 37.
  6. Ibid., pg. 65.
  7. Ibid., pg. 65-66.
  8. Ibid., pg. 68.
  9. Ibid., pg. 111.
  10. Ibid., pgs. 150-157.
  11. Ibid., pg. 151.
  12. Ibid., pgs. 164-166.
  13. Ibid., pgs. 166-169.
  14. Ibid., pgs. 170-173.
  15. Ibid., pg. 182.
  16. Ibid., pgs. 183-184.
  17. Ibid., pg. 195-199.
  18. Ibid., pg. 203-204.