Nora Ephron, 71, has died

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Nora Ephron died Tuesday at the age of 71 of acute leukemia in New York. If news of her severe illness was a surprise to some, her death was foreshadowed by gossip columnist Liz Smith, who published an online memorial to Ephron on Tuesday afternoon, before she passed away.

Ephron got her start as a writer in New York in 1962. A recent Wellesley grad, she wrote a parody of a New York Post story -- and then was hired by the Post. She wrote about her experiences as a journalist, among other things, in her final book, ‘I Remember Nothing.’ She was there when the Beatles first came to America -- but she didn’t get the full effect. ‘I was at Kennedy Airport. I went to the Ed Sullivan show,’ she told the NPR show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. ‘But I couldn’t hear them.’


Like much of her work, the collection of humorous essays took a look at the personal and found a way to make it funny. Ephron published it and 2006’s ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman’ with Alfred A. Knopf, her longtime publisher. The company said in a statement, ‘It is with great sadness that we report that Nora Ephron has died at the age of 71, after a battle with leukemia. She brought an awful lot of people a tremendous amount of joy. She will be sorely missed.’

Ephron’s first big publication was the sensational 1983 roman-a-clef ‘Heartburn.’ The novel was based on the dissolution of her marriage to famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, co-author of ‘All the President’s Men.’

That same year, the film ‘Silkwood’ was released; Ephron had written the screenplay, for which she recieved an Oscar nomination. Her film career took off: she wrote the screenplay for ‘Heartburn’ and for ‘When Harry Met Sally.’ Her directorial debut came with another romantic comedy she’d written, ‘Sleepless in Seattle.’ Her last release was ‘Julie & Julia’; Ephron directed the film and adapted the screenplay from the book of the same name by Julie Powell. Yet even with her Hollywood success, Ephron continued to write.

The Times’ Mary McNamara reviewed Ephron’s last book. ‘When I was a journalist just out of college, I worked at Ms. magazine and all my friends and I wanted to be Nora Ephron,’ she wrote in 2010. ‘She turned her divorce into a wise and hilarious novel, she wrote about events and people in such a way that was informative but also full of wit and stinging cultural analysis. She wrote about food before everyone was a foodie. She was smarter, darker and funnier than Anna Quindlen. Ephron’s voice helped launch a whole new way of writing, and I still love to hear it....’

Read our complete obituary of Nora Ephron.


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-- Carolyn Kellogg