Celebrated writer Nora Ephron died on June 26 after battling leukemia. The Oscar-nominated screenwriter, director, producer, playwright and essayist was 71.
Ephron, best known for her Hollywood romantic comedies When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, made her debut as a Broadway playwright with Imaginary Friends in 2002. The piece about Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy shuttered after two months, but Ephron had long-running stage success with Love, Loss and What I Wore (co-written with her sister Delia Ephron), which ran for over 1,000 performances off-Broadway from October 2009 to March 2012.
Witty, quotable and influential, Ephron was a prolific writer and filmmaker. Three of her screenplays (Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle) were nominated for Academy Awards. She is also well known for her roman a clef Heartburn, based on the demise of her marriage to famous investigative journalist Carl Bernstein. It was later made into a film starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. Ephron’s other film credits include You’ve Got Mail, Julie & Julia, Hanging Up, Michael, Mixed Nuts, Cookie, Blue Heaven and more. She was the author of several collections of essays, including Crazy Salad, Wallflower at the Orgy, Scribble Scribble, I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing.
Ephron had a new Broadway project in the works. Her play Lucky Guy, about New York newspaper columnist Mike McAlary, has been announced for an early 2013 opening with Tom Hanks in the leading role. A musical based on her film Sleepless in Seattle is also aiming for Broadway.
Ephron acknowledged her mortality in her last book of essays, I Remember Nothing, which was published in 2010: "You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can't put things off thinking you'll get to them someday. If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. So I'm very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it."
Ephron is survived by her husband, author/screenwriter Nick Pileggi, sons Jacob and Max Bernstein and three sisters, Delia, Hallie and Amy. The family requests that donations be made in Ephron’s honor to The Public Theater and The Motion Picture and Television Fund.