When writer/director Nora Ephron died of leukemia on June 26, 2012, millions of fans of her witty books and movies felt that they had lost a friend. Ephron penned the short-lived 2002 Broadway play Imaginary Friends before teaming up with her sister Delia and producer Daryl Roth on the smash-hit dramedy Love, Loss and What I Wore. As Ephron’s final play, Lucky Guy, begins previews at the Broadhurst Theatre (starring her frequent movie collaborator Tom Hanks as columnist Mike McAlary), Roth assembled a reunion of Love, Loss leading ladies to share their memories of collaboration and friendship. Next up are Ephron’s real-life confidante Maria Tucci and Carol Kane (now in The Lying Lesson), who e-mailed a short but sweet remembrance of Ephron as a truth teller.
The Real Nora
“My husband [Robert Gottlieb] was Nora’s editor, so I knew her for many phases of our lives. She told me about her illness seven years ago, but she didn’t want anyone to know. That was the third time I ever saw her cry. The first was when she came home from the hospital with Max [her younger son with ex-husband Carl Bernstein], and the second was in East Hampton, when she read a letter from Delia. In the best of all ways, Nora was everybody’s older sister. She always had clarity, but she was also clear about not always needing to be right. I once said, in passing, ‘Nora, you’re perfect.’ And she looked at me and said, ‘Oh, Maria, don’t be so unfair to me.’ She was even perfect about not being perfect.”
“Nora had really bad taste in men until she found Nick [Pileggi, her beloved third husband]. For a smart girl, she made some big mistakes. At a certain point after Carl, she was with a guy called Joe Fox. She had a thyroid cancer, and when I went to see her in the hospital, she said one of her great lines: ‘I realized I don’t want to die with Joe Fox.’ He was a nice guy, but that was the end of the relationship, and then she used his name in a movie. Shortly after that, she met Nick, who is one of the great men of the world, and that was that. ”
“Nora loved theater. Imaginary Friends was a very personal play, [Love, Loss] allowed her to work with Delia, and now here we are again [with Lucky Guy]. It’s about journalism—it’s her life and Nick’s life. She was a newspaper girl, and when I heard about the play, I thought, this is an homage to Nick. I think it’s going to be fantastic. You know, I keep having conversations with Nora in my head. She used to take me shopping until she finally said, ‘I’m not shopping with you anymore because you buy what looks good on me.’ I said, ‘That’s because I want to be you.’ I loved her so much.”
Nothing But the Truth
“The thing I remember most vividly about my work experience with Nora is that she was absolutely incapable of fibbing! She looked at you with eyes of truth and just said it, and it was always brilliantly aimed at the heart of the matter. This was the most wonderful platform for an actor to stand on. When you know the truth, you can build on it solidly. This kind of brave and direct response is, unhappily, rare. But Nora knew no other way. She cared and cared and cared.”
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