Nora Ephron Biography

Nora Ephron (May 19, 1941 – June 26, 2012) was an American journalist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, director, and blogger.

Ephron is best known for her romantic comedies and was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay): for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally..., and Sleepless in Seattle. She won a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay for When Harry Met Sally.... She sometimes wrote with her sister Delia Ephron. Her last film was Julie & Julia. She also co-authored the Drama Desk Award-winning theatrical production Love, Loss, and What I Wore.

Ephron was born in New York City, eldest of four daughters in a Jewish family, and grew up in Beverly Hills; her parents, Henry and Phoebe Ephron, were both East Coast-born and raised screenwriters. Her sisters Delia and Amy are also screenwriters. Her sister Hallie Ephron is a journalist, book reviewer, and novelist who writes crime fiction. Ephron's parents based Sandra Dee's character in the play and the Jimmy Stewart film Take Her, She's Mine on their 22-year-old daughter Nora and her letters to them from college. Both became alcoholics during their declining years. Ephron graduated from Beverly Hills High School in Beverly Hills, California, in 1958, and from Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in 1962.

She was married three times. Her first marriage, to writer Dan Greenburg, ended in divorce after nine years. Her second was to journalist Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame in 1976. Ephron had an infant son, Jacob, and was pregnant with her second son, Max, in 1979 when she found out the news of Bernstein's affair with their mutual friend, married British politician Margaret Jay. Ephron was inspired by the events to write the 1983 novel Heartburn, which was made into a 1986 film starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. In the book, Ephron wrote of a husband named Mark, who was "capable of having sex with a Venetian blind." She also said that the character Thelma (based on Margaret Jay) looked like a giraffe with "big feet." Bernstein threatened to sue over the book and film, but he never did.

Ephron was married for more than 20 years to screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, until her death. The couple lived in New York City.

Although Jewish by birth, Ephron was not religious. "You can never have too much butter – that is my belief. If I have a religion, that's it," she quipped in an NPR interview about her 2009 movie, Julie & Julia.