Wednesday, July 15, 2020 -
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When we met Nora Ephron

With the 1989 release of the film “When Harry Met Sally,” singles stuck in dating-world rat trap snuck incognito into their video stores to rent it again and again.

Long story short: A woman falls in love with her best friend, who can’t reciprocate her emotions, then realizes he misses her and has loved her all along. That unforgettable screenplay of modern relationships was penned by Nora Ephron, a Jewish woman with brains, beauty and a bittersweet way of mirroring the world.

A Wellesley educated journalist, essayist, novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter and a movie director, she understood love — the 35-year variety as well as the short-lived bloom — quite well.

In Heartburn, Ephron chronicled her love-crash-burn marriage to Carl Bernstein of Washington Post-Watergate fame. It provided a healing outlet for her and infinite knowing laughs for readers throughout the world. Its accurate depiction of a promising union that ended in blistering ruins still resonates so loudly that marriage counselors sometimes suggest it to patients.

She wrote the screenplays for “Silkwood” and “You’ve Got Mail,” among others, and directed “Sleepless in Seattle” (for which she shared screenwriting credits) and 2009’s “Julie and Julia” with Meryl Streep as Julia Child.

In her 2006 bestselling essay collection I Feel Bad About My Neck, she threw a cynical, funny, oh-so-true dagger at age. She made fun of everything: the wrinkles on her neck, her apartment, cabbage strudel and yucky egg-white omelets.

The daughter of Hollywood screenwriters Henry Ephron and Phoebe Wolkind, she learned from her mother that “Everything is copy.” Nothing was off limits to her parents, not even Nora. Similarly nothing was too sacrosanct for Miss Ephron, except her children. But she was more than content to invite the anonymous public to ride the whirlwind of her life.

The only thing she kept secret was her illness. Diagnosed with a pre-leukemic condition several years ago, Miss Ephron told only her closest friends. As the writer Sally Quinn said, “She had this thing about not wanting to whine. She didn’t like self-pity. It was always, you know, ‘Suck it up.’”

Miss Ephron passed away June 26 at age 71 from acute myeloid leukemia-induced pneumonia. The world was shocked because it was so clueless, which is exactly what she wanted. No tears, no painful eulogies, just some laughs, omelets made with real eggs and pie.

Perhaps the best tribute to Nora Ephron is that a lot of older and (hopefully) wiser people will be renting DVDs of “When Harry Met Sally.” And when the titles roll, everything will feel better. Honest.

Copyright © 2012 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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