Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and director Nora Ephron died Tuesday (June 26) from pneumonia. She was 71.
News of Ephron’s passing first hit the Internet late Tuesday when journalist Liz Smith, a friend of Ephron’s, published a column remembering the late director.
“She never gave the answer I expected to anything. She was grave in her humor, which made it deadly, unexpected, truly funny and dauntingly intelligent,” wrote Smith. “She seemed never to want or expect anything, while always demanding the best from the rest of us. She was — always — right and somehow left the smartest, most ambitious and silliest of us in the dust at her feet.”
Ephron lived a storied life both on set and behind the scenes. Born in New York City in 1941 and raised in Beverly Hills, California, Ephron worked as a journalist for numerous years before trying her hand writing and directing for film. Her writing appeared in such outlets as Esquire and New York, and she was even married to Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame from 1976 until 1980. She later wed screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi in 1987; they remained married until the time of her death.
In 1983, Ephron’s first major Hollywood movie, “Silkwood,” arrived in theaters. Starring marquee names including Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell and Cher, Ephron’s “Silkwood” was based on the true story of Karen Silkwood, who was killed in a suspicious accident during her investigation into the unethical practices of the nuclear power plant that employed her. The film was nominated for five Oscars, including one for Ephron’s screenplay.
Over the course of her career, Ephron cemented her place in Hollywood as one of the industry’s finest romantic comedy writers. She wrote the iconic “When Harry Met Sally … ” and directed numerous films, including the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan-starring “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.” Her final film as writer and director was “Julie & Julia.”
“I won’t say, ’Rest in peace, Nora,’ ” Smith wrote in her eulogy of Ephron. “I will just ask, ’What the hell will we do without you?’ ”
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