On June 26, 2012, Nora Ephron died from pneumonia, a complication resulting from acute myeloid leukaemia. Ephron had led a colourful life, she had worked as an intern in the white house during John F. Kennedy’s presidency. Before her venture into movies she formed a successful career as a journalist writing for the American magazine Newsweek, the New York post, New York magazine, Esquire, the New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. An essayist, humorist and reporter, she often wrote about sex, food and New York City and as a reporter was the first to break the news that t Bob Dylan had married Sara Lownds in a private ceremony in 1966.
She was married three times and divorced twice. Her final spouse was the author Nicholas Pileggi, famed for his nonfiction books about the mafia: Wiseguy and Casino which got adapted to the screen as Goodfellas and Casino by Martin Scorsese. Her second husband was the Pulitzer Prize investigative journalist Carl Bernstein who along with Bob Woodward was responsible for exposing the Watergate scandal and causing the resignation of President Richard Nixon due to his involvement in the case, which was excellently, portrayed in the movie All the Presidents Men. Due to her marriage to Bernstein she was one of the few people who knew the identity of the government source “Deep Throat” and guarded this secret well.
What she is best known for is her screenplays. In 1983 she won an academy award for her screenplay for the Meryl Streep starred film Silkwood. Her script for the film When Harry Met Sally is when she achieved the most fame, and rightly so. Her voice is all over the film, offering the viewer her brand of sexual philosophy from a male and female point of view and carving out her niche in the romantic comedy genre. Not since the films of early Woody Allen or Cary Grant did the rom com become engrained in the movie consciousness with this film and there hasn’t been a better film within the genre since.
Ephron branched out into directing with varying success. You’ve got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle and the underrated Julie and Julia, were all brilliant and original pieces of filmmaking. As a man I am not ashamed to say that I loved her films; or to put it more delicately, I feel that because a female voice is prominent within film the film is still able to be universal and this is what I think Ephron was; a universal filmmaker, maybe more so than Stephen Spielberg. She will be sadly missed.
“Nora was a person whose gifts of mind, amply displayed as a young person in her sharply observed journalistic pieces and in her personal wit, were, when I first met her, kind of scary: aimed and airy at the same time, an insouciant sharpness that could be intimidating, because you could never catch her `trying’, everything seemed effortless. But as I got to know her, I understood what drove her was her acute curiosity, and her desire to observe and find out stuff. It’s what made her great as a journalist, and as a director, too.”, Meryl Streep.
“I am very sad to learn of Nora’s passing. She was a brilliant writer and humorist. Being her Harry to Meg’s Sally will always have a special place in my heart. I was very lucky to get to say her words.” , Billy Crystal.
“Nora was an era. We pictured ourselves inside her dreams and they became ours. All wisdom, wit and sparkle lights, what a treat she was, what a blessing. I marvel again and again, what a life… To have created simple happiness in people, to have added to the sum of delight in the world.” , Meg Ryan.