Life Lessons: The Incredible Legacy of Nora Ephron (1941-2012)

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Nora Ephron, prolific storyteller, passed away at 71 from complications with Leukemia, her publisher announced today. You knew Nora. She was one of us. In addition to her essays, books, and plays, Ephron wrote the screenplays for Heartburn (based on her divorce from journalist Carl Bernstein), When Harry Met Sally, and Silkwood, before going on to direct her own scripts for Sleepless in Seattle and Julie & Julia amongst others.  Her ability to level with her audience across all sorts of lines has been scarcely rivaled before or since. Nora wrote the truth.

It's hard to wrap my mind completely around this loss. Her countless contributions are running through my head as I think of everything I've learned from her, and everything I'll never have the chance to.

As a woman in the film industry, Nora's work stands as a beacon of inspiration and hope that strong female voices can rise to the top, reach auteur status, and have their name become synonymous with their style. And what a style it was. Nora perfected the art of finding the humor in life as we see it, and her slant on the human experience made me aspire to form my own.

Nora Ephron on the set of Sleepless in Seattle.  Image courtesy of TriStar.

I was driving with my daughter to an event when my Dad called me to share the news.  After we hung up, I could no longer swallow as I realized there would never be another "Nora Ephron Movie".  My little girl is only two, but I found myself wondering which of my favorites I'd show her to get her started when the time came.

I met Nora once, a few years ago. I was working as the assistant to a director who was quickly becoming my mentor, and he in turn had worked closely with Nora (and her family) when he was a fledgling storyteller himself. We were in post production on the movie we were working on, and Nora was coming by to watch a cut and give notes.

I was terrified the entire day. How would I sit in the same room as the woman who's career I most wanted to emulate? I could barely eat as I mused on how I'd manage to muster words when faced with the mother of romantic comedy. And when she arrived, I didn't hear her knocking on the back door for a good five minutes. Lesser legends would have had me tarred and feathered for leaving them out in the bitter LA cold. Nora was warm, and gracious, and good-humored, and she moved her bag and made room for me on the couch.

Credit Image: ©Linda Nylind/Eyevine/

Those who truly knew her will undoubtedly reminisce on her kindness of spirit in their own tributes in the days to come, but my own deep admiration for her body of work is only rivaled by my deep admiration for the impact she had on the lives she touched first hand.

How will you remember Nora?


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