She Was Responsible for ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and ‘Julie & Julia’ — Writer, Director Nora Ephron Dies at 71

Jun 26, 2012  •  Post A Comment

In an obituary that carries the headline "Writer and Filmmaker With a Genius for Humor," The New York Times’ Charles McGrath writes, "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 filmmakers, 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 leukemia, her son Jacob Bernstein said."

Writes Pete Hammond in a tribute to Ephron at Deadline.com, "In introducing Screenwriting award winner Nora Ephron at a Hollywood Film Awards ceremony a couple of years ago her good friend and admirer Steven Spielberg said, ‘Nora knows how so easily to make us laugh and to make us cry and embrace the human comedy of it all. And she does it without any bathroom humor.’ " 

The New York Times’ obituary notes about Ephron that, "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."

She wrote "When Harry Met Sally," which was directed by Rob Reiner. She also wrote, with Alice Arlen, "Silkwood," which was directed by Mike Nichols.

In addition, Nichols directed Ephron’s screenplay of "Heartburn," based on her book of the same name about her marriage to Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein.

She directed "Sleepless in Seattle," which was written by herself, David S. Ward and Jeff Arch. She also directed "Julie & Julia," based on her own screenplay.

Hammond adds in his remembrance, "[S]trong women were at the center of so many Ephron scripts…even the sparkling little-seen 1979 ABC-TV movie ‘Perfect Gentlemen,’ featuring Lauren Bacall and Ruth Gordon pulling off a heist, that served as a launching pad for what would turn into an enormously successful film career."

Ephron’s parents were also screenwriters, the NY Times writes: "Her father, Henry, and her mother, the former Phoebe Wolkind, were Hollywood screenwriters who wrote, among other films, ‘Carousel,’ ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’ and ‘Captain Newman, M.D.’

The NY Times adds, "Ms. Ephron’s first marriage, to the writer Dan Greenburg, ended in divorce, as did her marriage to Mr. Bernstein. In 1987 she married Nicholas Pileggi, the author of the books ‘Wiseguy’ and ‘Casino.’ "

The Times also notes, ""In addition to her son Mr. Bernstein, a journalist who writes frequently for the Styles section of The Times, Ms. Ephron is survived by Mr. Pileggi; another son, Max Bernstein, a rock musician; and her sisters Delia Ephron; Amy Ephron, who is also a screenwriter; and Hallie Ephron, a journalist and novelist."

nora ephron.jpg

Nora Ephron

The following is one of the most famous scenes in movies. From "When Harry Met Sally." Includes the great payoff line at the end:


  1. So sad. She was so talented. I play her audiobook “I Remember Nothing” whenever I need a good laugh. It’s even more special because she’s reading it. R.I.P.

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