Nora Ephron was an insightful scribe of articles, and producer / director of smart cinema emphasizing wonderfully comedic romantic analysis and stories. Her early influence was her parents, who were both screenwriters. Phoebe and Henry Ephron wrote classic screenplays such as, There’s No Business Like Show Business, the remake of What Price Glory, and Desk Set. Ephron’s mom and dad based a character in the Jimmy Stewart / Sandra Dee film Take Her, She’s Mine on 22-year-old Nora, and her letters she sent home from college.
Early in her career, Ephron wrote essays for the New York Post, Esquire, and the New York Times Magazine. Prior to that, she had been an intern in President Kennedy’s White House. In 1976, she married Carl Bernstein (who I met on Sunday). At her husband and Bob Woodward’s request, she helped re-write William Goldman’s All the President’s Men. Though it was eventually discarded, the effort led her to Hollywood. Years later, Ephron claimed to be among only a handful of people who knew the identity of Deep Throat, the alleged source for the news stories written by her husband during the Watergate scandal.
Ephron was nominated three times for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay: Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle. Other work included Heartburn (based on her volatile marriage to Carl Bernstein), You’ve Got Mail (the remake of The Shop Around the Corner), Mixed Nuts, Julie & Julia, and the cinematic version of Bewitched. She also produced New York Tribute, a collage of collected clips from Big Apple movies for the 2002 Academy Awards ceremony. Nora directed much of her work brought to the big screen.
Ephron married Nicholas Pileggi in 1987, a journalist and screenwriter. He famously wrote Wiseguys, which was later made into the movie Goodfellas. He also penned Casino.
In 1994, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award. Her words provided great characterizations played by Cher, Meg Ryan, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Nicole Kidman. Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, and Billy Crystal also enjoyed being part of her productions.
Recently, she spent much of her day writing a woman-related blog at the Huffington Post. On a personal note, the blogger in Julie and Julia was my personal inspiration on the reason why I currently blog. Nora famously surmised:
"So many of the conscious and unconscious ways men and women treat each other have to do with romantic and sexual fantasies that are deeply ingrained, not just in society but in literature. The women’s movement may manage to clean up the mess in society, but I don’t know whether it can ever clean up the mess in our minds."
Nora Ephron was 71.
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