Our next artist for “The Faces Behind the Camera” theme is Nora Ephron – writer, journalist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, and director. Probably best known for her romantic comedies – “When Harry Met Sally”, “Sleepless in Seattle” and drama “Silkwood”. She was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Writing: for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle. She won a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay for “When Harry Met Sally”. Ephron received a posthumous Tony Award nomination for Best Play for her play “Lucky Guy” which starred Tom Hanks.
I love “Sleepless in Seattle” because of Nora Ephron’s smart writing, directing and the entire ensemble cast. This is one of the best scenes, comparing the tear-jerker “An Affair to Remember” versus “The Dirty Dozen” – Hilarious! Don’t get me wrong, both “You’ve Got Mail” and “Silkwood” are brilliant films. Right now “Sleepless” just resonates with me.
Ephron hails from a writing family starting with her stage and screenwriter parents – Henry and Phoebe Ephron. Her parents used her infancy as the subject of their play “Three’s a Family” and based their comedy Take Her, She’s Mine (1963) starring Jimmy Stewart and Sandra Dee on letters their 22-year-old daughter wrote them from college. Their screenplays include There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), Carousel (1956) and Desk Set (1957). Nora is also eldest of four daughters – all writers.
Miss Ephron had a distinctive voice and didn’t shy away from controversy. She took on a satire lampooning the New York Post which actually resulted in a job offer as Reporter from The Post, a gig which lasted 5 years.
As a writer for Esquire magazine she took on her former boss – Dorothy Schiff, owner of the Post and also Betty Friedan for starting a feud with Gloria Steinem and her alma mater Wellesley, which Friedan said had turned out “a generation of docile and unadventurous women”.
Fun Fact: Nora Ephron was married to journalist Carl Bernstein (1976-1980) of Watergate fame and she correctly guessed the identity of “Deep Throat” (the source for news articles written by her ex-husband Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward during the Watergate scandal) before his name was revealed in 2005.
On June 26, 2012, Ephron died from pneumonia, a complication resulting from acute myeloid leukemia, a condition with which she was diagnosed in 2006. In her final book, I Remember Nothing (2010), Ephron left clues that something was wrong with her or that she was ill, particularly in a list at the end of the book citing “things I won’t miss/things I’ll miss.”
The Tribeca film festival established The Nora Ephron Prize which is a $25,000 award for a female writer or filmmaker “with a distinctive voice”. The first Nora Ephron Prize was awarded in 2013 to Meera Menon for her film Farah Goes Bang.
Her death was a shock to many as she didn’t reveal her illness. Her brilliant writing and filmmaking talents are a definite loss to the industry.
|1989||When Harry Met Sally…||Yes||Yes|
|1990||My Blue Heaven||Yes||Yes|
|1991||The Super (uncredited)||Yes|
|1992||This Is My Life||Yes||Yes|
|1993||Sleepless in Seattle||Yes||Yes|
|1998||All I Wanna Do||Yes|
|You’ve Got Mail||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2009||Julie & Julia||Yes||Yes||Yes|