Nora Ephron’s death at age 71 really upsets me.
I—like the rest of the world—adored Nora Ephron—the person and her writings. In many ways, her life was my life-–our lives. She was a true icon of our grand generations. Positive, out-front on controversial issues and funny.
“Things” happened to me, to you and to Nora Ephron—from divorce to aging. We felt it. She wrote about it and made us laugh and made us understand ourselves more.
Outpouring of Eulogies
In the few days since her death, there have been countless eulogies from the sincerely written, multiple page articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post and most likely in every publication around the world. The life of Nora Ephron had a special meaning for millions of people from our grand generation to young upcoming writers.
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Leader of the Woman’s Movement
To me, Nora Ephron was much more than a very, very talented comic writer. She was a leader—a pleasant, non-assertive but nonetheless very effective leader of the woman’s movement.
“I have always thought it was a terrible shame that the women’s movement didn’t realize how much easier it was to reach people by making them laugh than by shaking a fist and saying don’t you see how oppressed you are.” NE 1976 (as quoted in the Washington Post article)
Screenwriter + Director + Producer
We think of Nora Ephron primarily as a writer especially a winning screenwriter. However, starting at a time when there were very few women producers and directors, she opened the gate with her skill and style. Look at her filmography.
- (1983) Silkwood (writer)
- (1986) Heartburn (writer, novel)
- (1989) When Harry Met Sally… (writer, associate producer)
- (1989) Cookie (writer, executive producer)
- (1990) My Blue Heaven (writer, executive producer)
- (1992) This Is My Life (director, writer)
- (1993) Sleepless in Seattle (director, writer)
- (1994) Mixed Nuts (director, writer)
- (1996) Michael (director, writer, producer)
- (1998) Strike! / The Hairy Bird / All I Wanna Do (executive producer)
- (1998) You’ve Got Mail (director, writer, producer)
- (2000) Hanging Up (writer, producer)
- (2000) Lucky Numbers (director, producer)
- (2005) Bewitched (director, writer, producer)
- (2009) Julie & Julia (director, writer, producer)
Despite her bitter divorce that she wrote about in her book and movie “Heartburn”, Nora Ephron remained an indestructible romantic. Just look at the endings of these two of my favorite films.
“When Harry Met Sally” 1989, only three years after her divorce and the success of “Heartburn”.
And “You’ve Got Mail” 1998.
I offer in evidence of her romantic supremacy, an article published February 14, 2012, in The Daily Beast, which not only lists what Nora thought to be her eleven favorite romantic films but also includes a clip from each.
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Quotations from The Huffington Post
“I have many symptoms of old age, aside from the physical. I occasionally repeat myself. I use the expression, “When I was young.” Often I don’t get the joke, although I pretend I do. If I go see a play or a movie for a second time, it’s as if I didn’t see it at all the first time, even if the first time was just recently. I have no idea who anyone in People magazine is.” – “I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections”
“That’s another thing about being a certain age that I’ve noticed: I try as much as possible not to look in the mirror.” – “I Feel Bad About My Neck”
“Everybody dies. There’s nothing you can do about it. Whether or not you eat six almonds a day. Whether or not you believe in God.” – “I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections”
Hide Fatal Illness
Nora Ephron was diagnosed with an aggressive for of leukemia in 2006. Nora knew she was dying and yet she didn’t even tell her best friends because, her friends say, she wanted to go on living life normally.
I think that her interview with Charlie Rose, December, 2010, on the occasion of the publishing of her last book “I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections” is the best summary of Nora Ephron’s life in her own words.
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Most of all a Great Friend
As I searched the web and heard interviews on the TV, I got the overall impression that Nora Ephron was a great friend. Two of her “best friends”, Adrianna Huffington and Barbara Walters described this friendship on CNN.
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In a tribute to her friend and associate Meryl Streep, at the 2004 AFI Tribute to Meryl Streep, Nora Ephron gives us Nora Ephron.
And Finally—Too Soon
Writing this I got to know Nora Ephron better, which is even sadder in a way, because, from the perspective of our grand generations, her early death denies her and us of one of the best decades of life. It leaves us only imagining her next book, her next movie, her next play and her next quotation.
Nora Ephron knew how to live a full and happy life. Her writings and her own way of living showed the rest of us the way.