The best of Nora Ephron
June 27th, 2012
11:19 AM ET

The best of Nora Ephron

Throughout her life, Nora Ephron was the ultimate multi-hyphenate, succeeding as a journalist, a film director and a writer of fiction, essays and plays for the stage and screen.

With those efforts, Ephron, who died at 71 on June 26, has left behind a groundbreaking legacy filled with great characters, plenty of wit, and that distinct Ephron perspective.

Her outlook was so particular that they came to form a particular category: the "Nora Ephron film." That category, writes the San Francisco Chronicle, "promised a movie containing some specific elements: At least one strong woman's role ... barbed humor ... bone-deep romanticism ... and just a hint, sometimes more than a hint, of nostalgia."

Nora Ephron's 'happily ever afters'

You can see those characteristics in her screenplay for 1989's "When Harry Met Sally." While the word "classic" gets tossed around a lot when referring to (somewhat) older films, in the case of this oft-quoted romantic comedy, it holds true.

"Classic" is a fitting description, writer/director Nicholas Stoller told the Huffington Post, because Billy Crystal's Harry and Meg Ryan's Sally are actually "two pretty messed-up characters. They're pretty flawed ... it goes to a dark, pretty real place between them. That's why it's a classic. Nora Ephron does not pull her punches in that movie."


She carried that same voice into her work on the page, crafting both fiction and non-fiction. Her essays in 2006's best-seller "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Reflections on Being a Woman" culminated into a "wry and invaluable book about aging," the New York Times writes, pointing out the essay "On Maintenance" in particular.

Throughout her career, the Times says, Ephron "perfected a wise and winningly nit-picky persona, turning herself into every reader's confidante."

Indeed, when New Yorker writer Ariel Levy picked up Ephron's novel "Heartburn" while traveling, she found a companion in Ephron's "funny, frank, self-effacing but never self-pitying and utterly intimate" voice.

That voice was brought to the big screen with 1986's "Heartburn," the screenplay for which Ephron adapted from her novel.


"Ephron ... was an artist of consolation, on the page and in her movies," Levy writes, positing that part of the reason you can always watch "a Nora Ephron film" is because they're not only funny, but also "profoundly reassuring."

Audiences ate that up, with her directorial work - including "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993); "You've Got Mail" (1998); and "Julie & Julia" (2009), all of which she also wrote - grossing a cumulative $515 million domestically, according to

But her greatest work also includes the lessons she left us, her audience, with, and those she imparted by example to women who aspired to her greatness. Commented actress and screenwriter Nia Vardalos on the evening of her passing, "Nora Ephron you helped all writer-girls know to just tell the truth."

On the eve of her death, a quote of Ephron's echoed from the mourning: "Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim."

Filed under: Books • Celebrities • movies

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Download Nulled scripts

    You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the paintings you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

    September 12, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |

    You can definitely see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

    August 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Homemade Hot Chocolate

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    July 5, 2012 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. yfa coventry

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    June 30, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. akinbowale

    Reblogged this on BookRepublic.

    June 29, 2012 at 3:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. HeeHaw

    Watching When Harry Met Sally in my early 20's made me realize that relationships need friendship and work. That movie helped me outgrow the extended adolescence of a GenXer )(and the lame romances that resulted), I"m fairly certain. There weren't a lot of options in the 80's – 90's for telling the love stories of ordinary women (Pretty Woman? ah, no) – Heartburn was another "wow" moment and the grown-up world not for the faint of heart. RIP Nora. . .

    June 27, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ahatcher

    The internet seems to bring out the worst in some people.

    RIP, Nora.

    June 27, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Central Scrutinizer

    Nora is most famous for coining the phrase "zipless fu(k" for women who go after the one-time fling. Look it up.

    June 27, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Who

    I came to this article because I had no clue who this person was. I read the article thinking "Okay, I remember that movie" and leave thinking i'm willing to bet that all of these movies will be forgotten in my lifetime. So thanks for the memories, my kids will have no clue this ever existed.......

    June 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Kind of like you.

      June 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Even with Halftimers

      So absurd. YOU may not remember her films by the end of your lifetime, and your poor kids seem destined to follow in your tracks, but When Harry Met Sally is a classic that will be remembered by many of us more observant and intelligent folk until our deathbeds. "You made a woman meow?" Sorry for your loss.

      June 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • jj

      such nice things to say TROLL!

      June 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Boo

    "I'll have what she's having." LOL!!!! RIP Norah...thanks for the laughs...

    June 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Eddie Haskell

    Screw this Jewess.

    June 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Shante's mom

    "You got mail" is one of my all time favorites but loved them all. Funny! Brilliant! Realistic and Kind are just some of the adjectives that describe her. We will miss you Nora! RIP

    June 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. noon

    Yeah, whatever. I won't be missing her.

    June 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. palintwit

    And yet the Palins continue to waste oxygen. Is there no justice?

    June 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      You could always kill yourself if you are so worried about oxygen levels. No one will miss you or your tired, boring, obsessive, pointless posts.

      June 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seamusgirl

      Excuse us Observer and palintwit–you are in the wrong SoundOff area. There is a place for politics on this site. We prefer to talk about Nora. So if you will excuse us, take the red/blue-dont -care comments elsewhere!

      June 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. maria

    Rest in peace beautiful Nora.. Thank you for such wonderful movies and quotes.. strength and comfort and joy..

    June 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Jacklyn Johnson

    Right! She's such a loss. We will miss you Nora! Ill visit your memorial page at Evertalk.

    June 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Christina Smythe

    Its so sad we've lost Nora Ephron. We will miss you! To all Nora's fans, she has a memorial page at Evertalk within Facebook. Lets take time to visit it. Here's the link.

    June 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |

    Awww how sad!!!! One of my favorite movies is "Lucky Numbers" :'o(

    June 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  19. jillmarie

    I love the quote! I'll live by those words. RIP, Nora Ephron.
    I wonder if there were any films made that are not yet released. Probaly not. I did love her movies. Now I want to spend a day watching them. I haven't seen a bunch in a while. Julie and Julia is probaly my favorite.

    June 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |

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