One of the great screenwriters America has produced, Nora Ephron, died in Manhattan at the age of 71 today. Her son, Jacob Bernstein, said that his mother died from a pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukemia.
Ephron's screenwriting credits since breaking into the profession by writing for TV in 1973 - she was a journalist, comedic essayist and director as well - reads like a list of some of the greatest Hollywood romantic comedies of the modern era. Her comedies were all about finding ways to convince two characters who didn't know it that they belonged together.
Those films include 'When Harry Met Sally', 'Sleepless in Seattle', 'You've Got Mail' and the recent 'Julie and Julia'. Not only about laughs, Ephron wrote of women's issue in social dramas and her first feature film, 1983s 'Silkwood,' was a drama that won her and co-writer Alice Arlen, an Oscar nomination, the first of 3 screenwriting Oscar nominations she received.
Nora Ephron and Carl Bernstein
Ephron married, and eventually divorced, Carl Bernstein, co-author of 'All the President's Men,' and for her the break-up was painful. She turned it into a novel 'Heartburn' which she later made into a screenplay, with her and director Mike Nicholls casting Jack Nicholson as Bernstein and Meryl Streep as herself.
Along with Nicholls, Nicholson and Streep, she worked with greats such as Maureen Stapleton, Tom Hanks, Woody Allen (she took small roles in two of his films), Meg Ryan, Dan Ackroyd, Diane Keaton, Steve Martin, Teri Gare, Jerry Lewis, Peter Falk, Cloris Leachman, Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, Jean Stapleton and Walter Matthau. She was known as a generous writer and director who cared about the film and the people making it with her.
Nora Ephron and her dark side
Through her books and characters, she became one of the better quotes on the American scene and the following one shows her joy at having fun with that which she has now lost - life: "When I buy a new book, I always read the last page first," Harry (Crystal) said in 'When Harry Met Sally'. "That way in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side."
Nora Ephron was, to America and the rest of the world, a bringer of light and that classic orgasm scene from 'When Harry Met Sally' is a great example of her doing so.