Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nora Ephron: 1941-2012

Some celebrity deaths hit us harder than others. And this one's hit me hard. I write about it on the BLOW OFF, because Nora Ephron was the female pioneer when it came to writing about relationships: falling in love and falling out of love. I've written blog posts about my break ups, when Ephron learned her husband (Carl Bernstein) was having an affair with their friend, she wrote a novel about it. Then a screenplay. That story turned into the movie Heartburn.

The most famous film she wrote was arguably When Harry Met Sally which coincidentally inspired yesterday's post. Everyone knows the scene in the deli. Everyone knows lines like "I'll have what she's having." Everyone knows the age old question the movie asked-- can men and women be friends? The movie will most likely go down in history as the best romantic-comedy ever.

In an industry that's dominated by men, Nora Ephron managed to be one of the most successful screenwriters and filmmakers. And when she faced challenges like finding studio friendly male directors to make her films, she decided to direct them herself. She was our answer to Woody Allen. As a writer, she was honest, but she was also really, really funny. I'd heard her say in interviews that she hated Women in Film panels. Sure, they're a little absurd, but maybe she never realized all the aspiring female writers, actors, directors, etc sitting in the audience that were inspired to keep trying because of her.

I got to hear her speak once at the Women's Conference in Long Beach. She was just starting work on Julie & Julia. I loved how confident and comfortable and witty she was. And I loved that she credited the advent of hair dye for keeping women young. She was the quintessential New Yorker in every way and was the kind of grown up I fantasize about being someday. Wise, cultured, full of stories, but still self-deprecating and authentic.

It's kind of funny to think Nora Ephron never had daughters. But I guess she didn't need them. We were all kind of her daughters in a way. She told us we were smart and beautiful and funny. And she told us everything was going to be okay. We'd get the guy we loved or the career we always dreamed of. And we'd be happy. At least we will always have her movies and books and plays to remind us of that.

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