My guy friends would often kid me about buying a men’s magazine. I couldn’t resist. Nora Ephron was a columnist for Esquire and as a young woman starting out as a writer, I hung on her every word. She was funny, she was irreverent, she was right. She made me laugh, cry, and, most of all, think.
She had a way of taking life’s greatest disappointments and using them as grist for her humor mill. So when her marriage to Watergate star reporter Carl Bernstein went south, she wrote a book about it, Heartburn, that was made into a movie with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.
Ephron made great movies because she was a great writer. Nothing can happen without a good script and Ephron not only directed but wrote most of her films. She was an associate producer and writer for When Harry Met Sally, then went on to write and direct Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, all three starring Meg Ryan. Yes, perhaps the plots were predictable, but we loved them; I loved them. Who can forget that delicatessen scene between Ryan and Billy Crystal? Or the one on the top of the Empire State Building when Ryan’s Annie finally meets Tom Hanks’ Sam? Ephron also wrote the screenplay and directed Julie and Julia, once again working with Streep. The result was, in a word, delicious.
The Off Broadway play Love, Loss and What I Wore, written with her sister Delia, became the best excuse for a girls’ night out. With a rotating cast of stars, the play ran for years and sent us on a journey, paying tribute to life’s milestones by remembering what we were wearing.
Nora’s voice has been silenced too soon, but we can continue to enjoy her work, including one of her recent essay collections, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts About Being a Woman, remembering one of her best quotes: “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”