Remembering Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron Photo © Ilona Lieberman
Nora Ephron Photo © Ilona Lieberman

Yesterday we lost Nora Ephron, the great American film director, producer, screenwriter, novelist, and essayist. Following an unpublicized illness, she died from pneumonia caused by acute myeloid leukemia. She is survived by her husband, screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi and her two sons, Jacob and Max Bernstein.

Best known for romantic comedies including Julie & Julia and Academy Award best original screenplay nominations for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally..., and Sleepless in Seattle, she became one of the most influential women in Hollywood and a cultural luminary of New York. Born to screenwriters, she and her siblings -- three younger sisters -- all became writers.

Following a life grounded in humor, passion, hard work, and an infectious love of language, she is best remembered in her own words. In her latest book of essays, "I Remember Nothing: And other Reflections" [listen here for her reading of an audio excerpt], she writes with characteristic honesty and insight: "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."

In one of the book's more poetic passages, "What I Will Miss," she cites her favorite things, mortality obviously in mind. Among them: fireworks, laughs, the view out the window, and reading in bed.

“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss," she says in “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman,” her previous collection of essays.

Reading Nora Ephron in all of her strength and vibrance certainly is bliss. We wish you a lifetime of it.