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Nora Ephron 1941 - 2012: Congratulations on a Magnificent Life

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | June 26, 2012 | Comments ()


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Nora Ephron died today from complications from leukemia. She was 71 years old. Ephron is best known for writing and/or directing When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless and Seattle, and a guilty favorite of many a great woman, You've Got Mail.

Her lighter fare aside (which, come on, everyone has some affection for, even if you refuse to admit it), it took Ephron's death for me personally to realize what an absolutely fascinating figure she was. I had no idea, for instance, that she was married to Carl Bernstein, nor that her movie, Heartburn, was based on an affair that Bernstein had with a mutual friend. I also didn't know that the Sandra Dee character in Jimmy Stewart's Take Her, Your Mine is based on Ephron, nor even that Ephron had been married to Goodfellas screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi for the last 20 years.

She also wrote the screenplay for Steve Martin's My Blue Heaven, and for that alone, she should be fondly remembered. She was also a journalist (and a figure in the New Journalism movement) and after her bitter divorce with Bernstein, she apparently told anyone who asked the identity of Deep Throat. Good for her, and Bernstein can go to hell for cheating on her.

I know I should be reporting this in a more somber manner, but seriously people, what a great life. Check out her Wikipedia page. She was a remarkable woman, and hopefully this grave event will provoke others to seek some of her other work because she was clearly more than just the director of Julie and Julia and Bewitched. It's unfortunate that it took her death for myself (and I would imagine many others) to realize it.

Rest in peace, Nora, and honestly, congratulations on a wonderful life.



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  • Homeslice

    Her journalism and writing were downright awesome and at times completely hilarious! Check out this parody piece she did about the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo book series for the New Yorker. Laughed so hard I was snorting:
    http://www.newyorker.com/humor...

  • Sara_Tonin00

    My Blue Heaven?! For some reason the Times skipped that in her obit, which you're right, showed what an amazing woman she was. Far from the frou frou I thought. I am humbled in retrospect.

    You could melt. all. this. stuff.

  • valerie

    There's something really adorable and refreshing about approaching death as an opportunity to congratulate someone on their life. Well said.

  • Slash

    Rest in peace and all that, but her movies were awful.

  • MIley's Virus

    What a day for a mow!
    - The world lost a good one.

  • DenG

    Ooooh, and she co-wrote Silkwood. Love it a lot.

  • sal

    Sleepless IN Seattle

  • Jenne Frisby

    she apparently told anyone who asked the identity of Deep Throat. I don't want to detract from her other varied and impressive accomplishments, but that is seriously uncool. She may have done it to lessen Berstein's perceived power, or dent his ego, but she was playing with a man's life and endangering a lot of people. I still think that college professor that outed him was a total megalomaniacal asshole. At least Nora didn't spill it for publication. Anyway, though I loathe the majority of all romantic comedies, even I will admit her best ones were transcendent. Respect to a real pioneer, farewell Nora.

  • Jenne Frisby

    Err, Bernstein's perceived power. I got so caught up in trying to spell megalomaniacal right, I failed to proofread. Follow the forest, *and* the trees, girl.

  • BWeaves

    You do know you can edit your posts now, right?

  • Horace

    Rob Reiner directed "When Harry Met Sally."

  • growler

    When Harry Met Sally is a classic. Her other movies okay to middling to not good. Her journalism? Astonishing. On a level with Helen Gurley Brown and Susan Brownmiller in terms of what in meant for women, but without so much of the strident feminism yet every bit the same effect. It's kind of a shame she'll be remembered more for the movies. BTW, The Washington Post had a really good, informative obit. Look it up, if you don't know much about her (or even if you do).

  • John G.

    Man, I read that she was in the hospital today. Now she's just gone. Very Sad. When Harry Met Sally was a huge movie for me growing up.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    Thanks for this write-up DR. I'm not a huge RomCom person, but I actually like most of these films for sort of the same reason that I like Norman Rockwell paintings (a similarly misunderstood figure) -- they feel simple and refreshing, but I think they are deceptively simple. Although Ephron's films adhere to the formula, these movies are far from "dumb" (see The Transformers franchise as a case in point). They have engaging characters, even if they are a big pollyannaish, that have real, humorous conversations. I'm even more pleased to learn that given such a bitter divorce she remained a hopeful, funny romantic.

  • gauche

    Rob Reiner directed When Harry Met Sally but that is not to detract from this woman's remarkable life and career.

  • Pastor of Muppets

    I thought Rob Reiner directed "When Harry met Sally." I think she wrote it though.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    Correct - she wrote "When Harry met Sally" so I'd say Rob Payne is right to include it in her body of work.

  • Tinkerville

    Every year around Christmas my mom and I put on Sleepless and Seattle, You've Got Mail, and When Harry Met Sally in one long Ephron marathon. Last year I didn't make it home so we put them on at the same time and texted each other during our favorite parts. I still put these on when I'm sad.

    Thanks for the memories, Nora.

  • van68

    She didn't direct When Harry Met Sally..., but otherwise ... absolutely. RIP.

  • Well said, Dustin. When Harry Met Sally is still my barometer for romantic comedies.

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