Nora Ephron, the celebrated screenwriter and director, died of leukemia tonight in New York. And I, for one, am so sad. She shepherded me through my youth into adulthood with films like ”When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail,” “Heart Burn,” “Cookie,” “This is My Life,” “Silkwood” and “Julie and Julia”. As a Journalism/Film major, we talked about her writing in University and I have read her many prolific books over the years like Crazy Salad . In that book in her short essay “A Few Words About Breasts,” she wrote: “If I had had them, I would have been a completely different person. I honestly believe that.” And I related. As a theater-goer, I laughed and cried during her shows, especially “Love, Loss and What I Wore” which I saw only a few years ago.
To me, Ephron embodied the image of how far women can go. She set out to become a journalist at a time when women weren’t pushed to go very far and became a successful one. “I never wanted to be in the movies because my parents were in the movies. Yecchh!” she told the Los Angeles Daily News in 1992. “I honestly believed that by going into journalism, I was turning my back completely on my parents’ life. but y’know, every journalist writes a screenplay, and so did I.”
So she became a screen writer, then a director. Even after she had children, she kept going, and produced some of her finest work, feeling that being a screenwriter was good profession for a mom. Her work was full of stories I could relate to, to women like myself or women I could aspire to. She also gave a heck of a lot of women in Hollywood starring roles, and many Oscar wins.
She made our experiences real. She took reality and dumped it on screen, showing us that everyone has a broken heart and survives, we all have strange attachments to our mothers (Julie Kavner and her daughters in “This is My Life”, we eat when we’re stressed, we need girlfriends like we need blood and oxygen (who can forget the relationship between Carrie Fisher and Meg Ryan in “When Harry Meets Sally”?, that it’s important to stay true to ourselves. Her sense of humor about her own family infiltrated all of her work, and it all hit close to home.
Here are a few clips of some of my favorite Nora Ephron films to remember her by. I won’t forget her you, Nora. Thanks for all the great moments you created for me. Like when my mother took me to see “This is My Life” and then out to dinner and we shared my first bottle of wine together, a night that remains etched in my memory. And the moment I was sitting in a theater on the Upper West Side when the scene in “You’ve Got Mail” where Meg Ryan and Greg Kinnear walk into the same theater and the audience cheered. And the moments where I recall the joy and laughter I experienced watching Meg Ryan achieve an orgasm at one my locals, Katz’s Deli in “When Harry Met Sally” or when Meg and Tom finally come together in “Sleepless in Seattle”. The moments are just too many and I am grateful.