The Arty Semite

Filmmaker and Writer Nora Ephron Dies at 71

By Forward Staff

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Screenwriter, film director, essayist, novelist and cultural figure Nora Ephron has died at age 71, The New York Times reports. The cause of death was pneumonia brought on by myeloid leukemia, a blood disorder from which she had been suffering for six years.

Ephron, best known for films like “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) and “You’ve Got Mail” (1998), was born on the Upper West Side of Manhattan to playwrights Henry and Phoebe Ephron. She was raised in Beverly Hills, Calif., before attending Wellesley college, where she got her start writing for the school newspaper.

After college Ephron worked for five years as a general assignment reporter at the New York Post before beginning a freelance career writing for magazines like New York and Esquire. Her pieces focused on cultural and feminist issues and were collected in books such as “Wallflower at the Orgy” (1970) and “Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women” (1975).

In 1976 Ephron married then-Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein. She got into the movie business through an effort to rewrite the adaptation of Bernstein’s book, “All the President’s Men,” which he wrote with Bob Woodward about their coverage of the Watergate scandal.

Ephron and Bernstein were later divorced when Bernstein was caught having an affair with the wife of the British ambassador. Ephron turned the experience into a bestselling 1983 novel, “Heartburn,” and later into a movie of the same name starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.

In 1987 Ephron married fellow journalist and screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, who survives her. Her most recent film, “Julie & Julia,” which starred Meryl Streep as famed French cooking proponent Julia Child, was released in 2009.


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