Remembering Nora Ephron

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Born in 1941 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, she got her start as a journalist in the mail-room of Newsweek Magazine. She went on to become novelist, a playwright, and an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and a movie director.

Alessandra Stanley is the chief television critic for The New York Times and friend of Ephron's. For Stanley, there was never a dull moment around Ephron's comedic genius. 

"Dinners at her house were a three-course comedy, and she was at the center of them," Stanley says. 

Ephron first struck out on a career in journalism, but made a transition to the world of Hollywood after writing the 1989 romantic comedy "When Harry Met Sally". The film was nominated for that year's Oscar for Best Writing. She both wrote and directed the 1993 hit "Sleepless in Seattle," starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. 

In addition to her creations on the silver screen, Ephron wrote several plays and published collections of short stories and essays. "Nora was around in the world as much as she was working," Stanley says. She was at parties, she was cooking, she was playing Scrabble. I think that's what was amazing."  

One particularly memorable scene of Ephron's comes from the 1998 rom-com "You've Got Mail", when Tom Hanks explains to Meg Ryan why men quote from the 1972 classic "The Godfather". "I think that for women, that's what Nora Ephron's books and movies were," Stanley says. "Anything worth saying, anything funny worth having was in her work." 

Director and writer James L. Brooks tweeted a tribute to Ephron, writing, "Each time with Nora Ephron I watched her as one would a natural phenomenon, unconsciously agape at how remarkable she was."  

"She was a serious person who never took herself or her life seriously," Stanley says. "She can write a serious piece, but there's always something slightly comic."

Ephron passed away due to complications from acute myeloid leukemia.