Nora Ephron, who recently passed away because of pneumonia, a complication resulting from acute myeloid leukaemia, was a well-known American screenwriter, director, playwright and journalist. She is most famous for writing the screenplays of the romantic comedies When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail (the last two of which she directed). Her last work was Julie & Julia, which she wrote, directed and produced.
After graduating from college, she wanted to become a journalist, but was rejected by various journals, including Newsweek, where she was told that it “didn’t employ women writers”. Eventually, she landed a job in the mail room of Newsweek. She, along with some friends, later came out with a satirical newspaper. Her parodies of New York Post columnists caught the eye of the Post’s publisher, who was so impressed that he hired her. During the 1960s and 1970s, she became one of New York’s top columnists, and was considered a part of the ‘New Journalism’ movement, where the author’s personal voice becomes part of the story.
She got married three times, first to writer Dan Greenburg, later to celebrated journalist Carl Bernstein (who, along with Bob Woodward, exposed Watergate), and then to screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi.
Ephron enjoyed her greatest writing success with When Harry Met Sally. She contemplated a transition to film direction, in part to protect her own writing career in an industry still largely inhospitable to films by or about women. Unfortunately, her first film, This Is My Life, was a box-office disappointment. However, her next assignment as director of Sleepless in Seattle proved a major success and won her acclaim.
Ephron also wrote a blog for the online news site The Huffington Post, delighting in the opportunity for an instinctive response to news rather than a crafted screenplay.