Nora Ephron, an essayist and humorist in the Dorothy Parker mold (only smarter and funnier, some said) who became one of her era’s most successful screenwriters and film makers, making romantic comedy hits like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally, died Tuesday night in Manhattan. She was 71.
The cause was pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukaemia, her son Jacob Bernstein said.
She was a journalist, a blogger, an essayist, a novelist, a playwright, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and a movie director—a rarity in a film industry whose directorial ranks were and continue to be dominated by men. Her later box-office success included You’ve Got Mail and Julie & Julia.
Nora Ephron, 1941-2012
Ephron was born on 19 May 1941, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the eldest of four sisters, all of whom became writers. That was no surprise; writing was the family business. Her father and mother were Hollywood screenwriters who wrote, among other films, Carousel, There’s No Business Like Show Business and Captain Newman, M.D.
She turned her painful break-up with her second husband, the Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein, into a best-selling novel, Heartburn, which she then recycled into a successful movie starring Jack Nicholson as a philandering husband and Meryl Streep as a quick-witted version of Ephron herself.
When Ephron was 4, her parents moved from New York to Beverly Hills, where she grew up, graduating from Beverly Hills High School in 1958. At Wellesley, in Massachusetts, she began writing for the school newspaper, and in the summer of 1961 she was a summer intern in the Kennedy White House.
After graduation from college in 1962, she moved to New York intent on becoming a journalist. After stints at Newsweek and the New York Post in the late 1960s, Ephron had turned to magazine journalism. She quickly made a name for herself by writing frank, funny personal essays.
©2012/The New York Times