Nora Ephron – “I’ll Have What She’s Having”

Nora Ephron

May 19, 1941 – June 26, 2012

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.


Nora Ephron 1972

Nora Ephron 1972


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.”


nora ephron quote


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.



Feature films

Year Title Credited as
Director Screenwriter Producer
1983 Silkwood Yes
1986 Heartburn Yes
1989 When Harry Met Sally… Yes Yes
Cookie Yes Yes
1990 My Blue Heaven Yes Yes
1991 The Super (uncredited)[20] Yes
1992 This Is My Life Yes Yes
1993 Sleepless in Seattle Yes Yes
1994 Mixed Nuts Yes Yes
1996 Michael Yes Yes Yes
1998 All I Wanna Do Yes
You’ve Got Mail Yes Yes Yes
2000 Hanging Up Yes Yes
Lucky Numbers Yes Yes
2005 Bewitched Yes Yes Yes
2009 Julie & Julia Yes Yes Yes



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