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June 26, 2012 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Nora Ephron, best known for writing the 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, has died at 71 from pneumonia as a complication of acute myeloid leukemia.

Ephron started her career as a journalist for the New York Post, and she quickly earned a reputation as a witty feminist essayist. Ephron married and had two children with Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame, and wrote a bestselling novel-turned-movie about the power couple's failed marriage. After adapting her novel for film, Ephron found her niche in writing Meg Ryan/Rob Reiner hits like Sleepless in Seattle, and in 1998 tried her hand at directing with You've Got Mail. Ephron was a contributor to, and editor-at-large of, The Huffington Post.
posted by brina (156 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by telegraph at 8:05 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by schyler523 at 8:06 PM on June 26, 2012


I feel bad about my neck this.
posted by subbes at 8:06 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aw, shit. Hey Max, if you wind up reading this don't read any further. My condolences.

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posted by carsonb at 8:06 PM on June 26, 2012


I would not like to have what she was having.
posted by flarbuse at 8:07 PM on June 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Aw, shit. Hey Max, if you wind up reading this don't read any further. My condolences.

Just learned the news from his twitter feed. Was in the middle of composing a post before deciding I couldn't do it justice.

She is a HUGE part of the reason women are finally taken seriously in screenwriting, and will be missed.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:09 PM on June 26, 2012 [16 favorites]


An incredibly funny woman. Thanks for the laughs, lady.

RIP.
posted by jonmc at 8:11 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Damn, I feel like I was only just reading Julie and Julia articles about what a gourmet-cookin' party-hostin' Oscar-winnin' indefatigable dynamo she was. One if those people that makes you ashamed of your own comparative lack of drive, grit, and wit.
posted by Diablevert at 8:11 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


We have lived through the era when happiness was a warm puppy, and the era when happiness was a dry martini, and now we have come to the era when happiness is "knowing what your uterus looks like."

-- Vaginal Politics, Dec. 1972
Sally Albright: But I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it's real; if it's out of the can then nothing.
Waitress: Not even the pie?
Sally Albright: No, I want the pie, but then not heated.

-- When Harry Met Sally, 1989
Nora Ephron's Beef Borscht

Put 3 pounds beef chuck cut for stew and a couple of soupbones into a large pot. Add 2 onions, quartered, and 6 cups beef broth and bring to a boil, simmering 15 minutes and skimming off the scum. Ad 2 cups tomato juice, the juice from a 1-pound can of julienne beets, salt, pepper, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Then simmer slowly for 2 1/2 hours until the beef is tender. Add the beets left over from the beet juice, and another can of beets and juice. Serve with huge amounts of sour cream, chopped dill, boiled potatoes and pumpernickel bread. Serves six.

-- Dorothy Schiff and the New York Post, April 1975
posted by brina at 8:12 PM on June 26, 2012 [28 favorites]




(also, I lost my virginity, at least in part because of When Harry Met Sally, so thanks for that, Ms. Ephron)
posted by jonmc at 8:13 PM on June 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


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posted by shakespeherian at 8:14 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by ColdChef at 8:15 PM on June 26, 2012


She did a lot of great, funny, smart movies about human relationships, many of which I've seen, most of that subset I've really enjoyed. A behind-the-scenes triple threat, she was popular both with critics and the public, and she was still going strong basically right up to the end.

We won't see many more like her, with all the ways the movie industry has changed in the past decade or so. I'm glad she was around to do what she did, and we will all feel the lack of her even if we aren't directly aware of what it is we are lacking.

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posted by hippybear at 8:15 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by TwelveTwo at 8:15 PM on June 26, 2012


One of my dad's girlfriends had a copy of Crazy Salad, which I stole from her and read cover-to-cover when I was eleven. The things a girl can learn from that book.

Godspeed, funny lady.
posted by pxe2000 at 8:16 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by OolooKitty at 8:16 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by Artw at 8:17 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by marimeko at 8:20 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by Ink-stained wretch at 8:20 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by caclwmr4 at 8:22 PM on June 26, 2012



So much of her writing has informed my adult life (for better or worse). This saddens me greatly.
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Fuck cancer and especially fuck leukemia.
posted by ApathyGirl at 8:23 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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I want to be Nora Ephron when I grow up, neck and all.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:23 PM on June 26, 2012


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goddammit.
posted by argonauta at 8:25 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


A screenwriter that makes people sound like people is the best screenwriter.

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posted by Lyn Never at 8:25 PM on June 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim."

I can't tell you just how that hit the mark with me tonight — right between the eyes.

Farewell, Nora, and thanks for everything.
posted by orange swan at 8:28 PM on June 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


So incredibly funny and smart. I consider myself proud to have gone to the same college as her.

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posted by bookwibble at 8:29 PM on June 26, 2012


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Bless your heart.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 8:30 PM on June 26, 2012


Damn.

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posted by rtha at 8:32 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by arcticseal at 8:32 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by dotgirl at 8:34 PM on June 26, 2012


Here is a collection of New Yorker pieces written by Ephron. RIP.
posted by dbiedny at 8:36 PM on June 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


She is the reason I am a writer of the movie variety.

Heartbroken.
posted by incessant at 8:36 PM on June 26, 2012


This hit me a bit hard. Her romcoms had a definite style/ voice, and no matter which or how many of her works you knew or liked, I think she had agreat influence on a certain area of film and nonfiction.

I spent part of the evening seeking out (and posting elsewhere) clips from her romcoms- from the "coffee table fight" in WHMS to Rita Wilson's classic turn describing a chick flick in Sleepless.

Nora, I may not have moved in your circles, but thanks for the glimpse inside.

You know you've done something when on the night you die millions of people will laugh remembering something you said/wrote.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:37 PM on June 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by Miko at 8:40 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by MarvinTheCat at 8:43 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by hanoixan at 8:45 PM on June 26, 2012


NorthernLite, would you mind sharing the clips with us as well? I think we could all use a good laugh right now.

Once when I was a cub reporter I was contacted by a kid who claimed to know the identity of Deep Throat, said he'd learned it from Nora Ephron and Carl Bernstein's son Jacob when the two kids were at camp together. I called up Jacob Bernstein and he hung up on me, so I called him again and said, "don't hang up," and he hung up so I e-mailed him, and he wanted to know where I got all his contact information, and then he talked to me for maybe thirty seconds. Perfect -- I got the money quote and my story was done. But the next day I was reading the Huffington Post -- this must have been right after it launched -- and Nora Ephron was complaining that no journalists had called her. After all, she would know if her own son (a) knew who Deep Throat was, and (b) told a camp buddy, and also (c) she was apparently listed in the phone book, unlike her son. All the glory went out of the moment, and after that I was just horrified by my missed opportunity.
posted by brina at 8:46 PM on June 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


I have seen When Harry Met Sally a gajillion times. It is my favorite movie to this day.

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Also, waaaaaaaah.


I liked this opening sentence.
"Among the injustices about the death of Nora Ephron is that she isn't around to tell us about it."
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:47 PM on June 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


Harry Burns: "When I buy a new book, I always read the last page first, that way in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.” (When Harry Met Sally)
posted by New England Cultist at 8:48 PM on June 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Also, Crap.

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posted by New England Cultist at 8:49 PM on June 26, 2012


She has written several scenes which have burned themselves into my memory as perfect, and she was known for not just writing well, but in such a way as to leave room for the actors and directors to play around with her work to get the best result, which is a very underrated skill in a screenwriter (usually the instinct is to write in such detail as to basically act and direct from the page, which is a bad instinct.)

The first I'm thinking of is from Sleepless in Seattle, but likely not a scene many people remember from it. I'm thinking of the big argument Tom Hanks has with his son near the end. There are only two or three scenes I think of as perfect examples of a "big, escalating verbal fight," and this is one of them. Hanks is about to go off for a weekend with the woman he's seeing, that his son doesn't like. His son (all of eight years old) wants him to be with this woman Annie, (Meg Ryan) who neither of them actually knows. There comes a part of it where Hanks breaks away from it to go into his bathroom and is washing his face and continuing the argument, but only really talking to himself, exasperated:

HANKS: "I'm going off for the weekend and I am getting laid. It's the nineties, nobody is getting laid, but I'm getting laid this weekend and I haven't even been laid that much. Six girls in college. Maybe seven."

(Sees son standing in the doorway)

HANKS: How much did you hear?

SON: Six girls in college, maybe seven!

HANKS: Eight! Eight! (names some name I can't remember)

It's just... it's ridiculous, and kind of funny but also just a little heartbreaking. Hanks naming names like they mean anything to his eight-year-old son, the son being so maniacal in his own side of the argument that he's unfazed, and the actual anger that plays through, while showing them to see each other as equals in a way, which makes it sweet. It's just a perfect scene, perfectly written and perfectly played.

The second is a deleted scene from When Harry Met Sally... You will remember the interview segments, which were meant to appear real but were in fact scripted for a sort of mockumentary feel. Well, there were a number that didn't make the cut, including what to me is far and away the best one, and one which has sort of informed my life-philosophy.

In it, the woman in the couple is describing how she met her husband while walking down the street, and describes in great detail (for several minutes) how strange it was that she was there at all, giving all of the tiny little accidents of circumstances, odd choices, and random events that brought her there, in that moment. And it's an entertaining, captivating story that tells us a lot about her and the world she inhabited.

At the end, the husband speaks for the first time: "I was just walking down the street."

So, so much told about this old couple in this tiny vignette, and told charmingly. It just amazes me.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:50 PM on June 26, 2012 [21 favorites]


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posted by donajo at 8:50 PM on June 26, 2012


Sleepless in Seattle became a second language for me, my mom, and my sister after my parents' divorce. It still is. Last year we went to the beach and had tshirts made, quoting the line in Sleepless when Tom Hanks tells his son that Fatal Attraction "scared the shit out of every man in America."

I later came to take up When Harry Met Sally... as my own source of signature lines, and to love Heartburn (what a blow to my All the President's Men-loving young feminist self) and her non-movie writing, but Sleepless has been just a stalwart. I'm shocked by how upset I am by this news, and that there'll be no more Nora Ephron movies.

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posted by kickingthecrap at 8:50 PM on June 26, 2012


And, navelgazer, Tom Hanks yells "Mary Kelly!" (the name of the script supervisor)
posted by kickingthecrap at 8:58 PM on June 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


WHMS Coffee table sequence.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:01 PM on June 26, 2012


thanks, kickingthecrap! It should say something about her ability to stick my mind that I haven't seen either Sleepless or WHMS in probably ten years.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:04 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by LobsterMitten at 9:07 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by lord_wolf at 9:08 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by vibrotronica at 9:08 PM on June 26, 2012


Ephron forged the way for so many successful women in Hollywood that her contribution cannot be overstated.

Rest in peace, Nora.
posted by xingcat at 9:14 PM on June 26, 2012


Thank you, Ms. Ephron. Thank you.

This is still my favorite moment from "When Harry Met Sally." It never fails to make me smile a big old dopey goofy smile when I watch it on TV or YouTube.

Harry: "I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you,I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody,you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
posted by zooropa at 9:18 PM on June 26, 2012 [28 favorites]


My wife and I are having a second child at the end of the summer. Our first is named Clara. Nora would be a good one for a girl. I shall remember it.

You were a great woman, Nora. Rest well.

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posted by jimmythefish at 9:19 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


"One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don't take it personally, but listen hard to what's going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn't serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you -- whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you." — '96 Wellesley commencement address

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posted by triggerfinger at 9:19 PM on June 26, 2012 [52 favorites]


What a woman.

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posted by ocherdraco at 9:21 PM on June 26, 2012


Nora Ephron pretty much represents all that I admire and love about American culture.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:21 PM on June 26, 2012


When Harry Met Sally... is a perfect film.

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posted by eyeballkid at 9:23 PM on June 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by msali at 9:29 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by Wordwoman at 9:29 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by hydrobatidae at 9:30 PM on June 26, 2012


For Ephron, there was a moment that helped bring that realization vividly home. She was with friends, playing a round of "What would your last meal be?"

(Her pick, by the way: a Nate & Al's hot dog.)

"But (my friend) Judy was dying of throat cancer, and she said, 'I can't even have my last meal.' And that's what you have to know is, if you're serious about it, have it now," Ephron says. "Have it tonight, have it all the time, so that when you're lying on your deathbed you're not thinking, 'Oh I should have had more Nate & Al's hot dogs.'"
A part of my journey towards manhood was shaped by when I saw When Harry Met Sally.

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posted by chinesefood at 9:31 PM on June 26, 2012 [15 favorites]


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posted by liquorice at 9:32 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by fuse theorem at 9:37 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by cazoo at 9:42 PM on June 26, 2012


Michael is in my top ten quiet rewatchables.

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posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:44 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Her essays shaped a lot of my thinking about feminism and about reproductive politics. And nobody but nobody wrote dialogue like Nora.

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posted by gingerest at 9:45 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by churl at 9:58 PM on June 26, 2012


Oh no! I just watched a delightful conversation between her and Lena Dunham on the Tiny Furniture DVD. I will miss Nora Ephron's writing--I read Heartburn and Crazy Salad before I really understood them, but I knew they were good and I enjoyed them very much.

And I definitely have her to thank for making me want to blurt out "Baby fish mouth!" every single time I play Pictionary.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:58 PM on June 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


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posted by but no cigar at 10:03 PM on June 26, 2012


You've Got Mail was my first internet-arranged blind date...


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posted by Bohemia Mountain at 10:05 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by pdxpogo at 10:27 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by newdaddy at 10:38 PM on June 26, 2012


Her writing had a marvelous rueful wit at its best. She will be terribly missed.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:44 PM on June 26, 2012


She as a superb romantic comedy author, which is nothing to sneeze at, She was capable of writing movies that appealed to both men and women, and captured that effervescent quality that Lubisch brought to his films, where love was delightful sport. But there was also something dark in her writing -- love was confusing, and hurt, and was filled with uncertainty and jousting and easy wounds. And she also wrote the Julia Child/Paul Child relationship in Julie & Julia, as limned by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci, and it's about as sweet and comfortable a relationship as have ever been put on the screen.

But she also cowrote Silkwood. My God, is that a tense, moving piece of writing. People who may not care for romantic comedies, and think less of her as a writer because she specialized in them, should rewatch Silkwood, and be reminded what a genuine talent she was.

RIP.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:44 PM on June 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


I need to rewatch When Harry Met Sally. It has been too long. I always thought that I was worthy of mockery for how much I liked her movies, without really knowing who she was. Reading all this is fascinating to me.
posted by Night_owl at 10:51 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by Philofacts at 11:00 PM on June 26, 2012


Ouch. And tears. I hate it when somebody brilliant, who was part of my enjoyment of the world dies. Goodbye dear Nora Ephron. I will miss your wonderful, heartwarming, perceptive, honest, penetrating, human, funny writing. It hurts to know you died. You will be so missed by so many around the world. And how wonderful it was that you lived, that you created, that you spoke out! YAY you having been born, even if the price of that is that you also die.

What courage she had on so many levels that made the world a better place for women. She talked about all the taboo stuff, abortion, women's rights, feminism, politics, with forthright clarity and fiercely, being pro women and also pro men. What courage she had to openly talk about the Watergate scandal's Deep Throat being Mark Felt and astounding that journalists didn't take her seriously for years! Maybe the vastness of that conspiracy made her direct and simple transparency unbelievable?

My tender condolences to Nora's sisters, Delia, Amy and Hallie, to her husband, Nicholas Pileggi, to her children, Jacob and Max, her loving relatives and friends.

She was full of wisdom, including this: "You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can't put things off thinking you'll get to them someday," she says. "If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. So I'm very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it."
posted by nickyskye at 11:03 PM on June 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


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My mother was friends with her younger sisters when they were kids and remembered how Nora would come up to them and say very cutting things, which would intimidate them no end. I did get a chance to tell her this several years ago after a panel at the 92nd st Y and her response was "Good!" She also told me she would get sex manuals from my grandfather's bookstore.

"Diana's" (from AFWaB) family was friends with both sides of mine (my parents first met at her parents' house cooling party--they were getting divorced). Nora remained close with her daughter.
I didn't get a chance to ask her about my uncle's coke date with her when he was getting his MS/Ph.D at Harvard; unfortunately he doesn't remember much.
posted by brujita at 11:14 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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Real, genuine tears about her passing.
posted by asciident at 11:15 PM on June 26, 2012


I read Heartburn I can't remember how many years ago. And I've always wanted to taste key lime pie, ever since I read that bit.

I feel the need to learn how to make key lime pie, and I will think of her fondly while I eat it. (Assuming I can make a gluten-free version, dammit.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 11:22 PM on June 26, 2012


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posted by Lina Lamont at 11:52 PM on June 26, 2012


This makes me genuinely sad. I was just thinking recently how few good romantic comedies there are these days, and how we need another Nora Ephron.

Also, one of her more overlooked but really lovely films is This is My Life. If you're looking for some vintage, straight-up Ephron, check it out.

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posted by lunasol at 12:09 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by brundlefly at 12:19 AM on June 27, 2012


I think her work has a timeless quality to it, in a kind of unexpected (not for her: she knew exactly what she was doing; but for me, because I was surprised) way. Such talent. Such a loss.

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posted by trip and a half at 12:50 AM on June 27, 2012


Maybe now she can ask G-d about his objections vis-a-vis days of the week underpants.
posted by sonika at 1:13 AM on June 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Well, now I know what my next book is ... one of her essay collections. If only I could narrow it down.

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posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 1:28 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can quote large swaths of "You've Got Mail" till I'm blue in the face and none of it -- NONE of it -- ever ceases to make me laugh.

May her clever spirit haunt all of the worst chauvinists and misogynists in Hollywood and politics alike.
posted by Hello Darling at 1:33 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:50 AM on June 27, 2012


Maybe now she can ask G-d about his objections vis-a-vis days of the week underpants.

That was my first thought too. I have watched WHMS a million times and that scene still makes me laugh.

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posted by kingfishers catch fire at 2:01 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The week WHMS opened, I saw it three times. I had never heard of Nora Ephron or Meg Ryan.

Easily one of my all-time favorite movies, and I'm loving how many people can quote the hell out of it in this thread.

I could very nearly do the entire movie from memory. Sometimes I think of doing that as a fun piece of performance art.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 3:03 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:05 AM on June 27, 2012


"I married him against all evidence. I married him believing that marriage doesn't work, that love dies, that passion fades, and in so doing I became the kind of romantic only a cynic is truly capable of being." – Heartburn
posted by crossoverman at 3:23 AM on June 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


I recently saw Julie & Julia, and almost immediately rewatched it. Twice.

One half of that movie is stunningly perfect. The other half, while fun and enjoyable, to me serves as the backdrop for the gem that is Julia's story. I love it for Meryl Streep's eerily accurate and hilarious portrayal of Julia Child. For Stanley Tucci's subtlety as a gentle and passionate husband, a principled man deeply wounded and betrayed by a government mired in McCarthyism. I love it for the companionship, affection and nonverbal conversations that make them a believable married couple.

It turns out, I love it for Nora Ephron's writing and directing. I hadn't even realized she was responsible. Oooh... Of course it was hers. Of course it was.
posted by likeso at 3:41 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Defying Gravity at 4:26 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by Obscure Reference at 4:36 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by box at 4:41 AM on June 27, 2012


I could very nearly do the entire movie from memory. Sometimes I think of doing that as a fun piece of performance art.

Right there with you. Thanks to several drunken nights in college, I can even quote most of the French subtitles from the DVD edition.
posted by sonika at 4:43 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by bilabial at 4:47 AM on June 27, 2012


Why hasn't anyone linked to the Sally's fake orgasm in the diner scene yet? When I first saw that scene it made me laugh like crazy, but when I watch it now, I think I like it even better because of their expressions both before and afterwards.
posted by colfax at 4:58 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


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I've learned a lot from links in this thread. I was a fan before, but armed with a little knowledge, I'm amazed at the mark she left. (And that commencement line is goddamn awesome)
posted by DigDoug at 5:23 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by biscotti at 5:26 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by gauche at 5:28 AM on June 27, 2012


My favorite bit (outside of 90% of When Harry Met Sally), is the comparison of chicks' movies versus guys' movies in Sleepless in Seattle, where they equate The Dirty Dozen to An Affair to Remember. Tom Hanks is funny in it, but Victor Garber stamps it and mails it in.
posted by steef at 5:30 AM on June 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Welp, MeFi proves me wrong again, and I'm glad. What a great thread.
posted by carsonb at 5:31 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by Cash4Lead at 5:55 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by tommasz at 5:57 AM on June 27, 2012


i met her at a "women in media" event. she was so down to earth all i could think of was, "she makes genius look easy". amazing trailblazer.








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posted by liza at 5:59 AM on June 27, 2012


I woke this morning to the news that Nora Ephron died last night. I'm crushed. She was an incredibly important person to me; primarily just because she *was*, and she refused to let the world tell her what she should be.

True story; Nora Ephron was listed in the phone book in the '80s. This was before When Harry Met Sally, when she was best known for her essays and her writing. I was applying for a job with a Well Known Music Publication, and for some reason, I thought I would call her, and ask her if I could buy her lunch and ply her with questions about being a female journalist in an industry that was openly hostile to women.

Imagine my surprise when she said yes! She later said that she'd never turn down an opportunity for food. ;) We had lunch at a little Jewish deli, and I don't think our conversation ever got around to what I wanted to ask; but I can tell you that I fell in love with her that day, and I've been in love ever since.

Nora has always been a light at the end of the tunnel. Proof that age doesn't matter, that sex doesn't matter; what matters is being true to your self, your voice, your vision...damn the critics, full speed ahead.

As always, she said it better than I ever could: "Be the heroine of your own life, not the victim."

So long Nora, and thanks for all the blintzes.
posted by dejah420 at 6:25 AM on June 27, 2012 [40 favorites]


She was amazing at those small conversations that were funny because they were true to the core. I looked forward to her movies and am heartbroken there won't be any more. I hope her (too too early) death brings new interest in whatever scripts are certainly sitting in her file drawers from the past decades.

I also love that when Mindy Kaling (another hero) used to blog, she named herself after Efron. Which is when I totaly fell for Kaling as well.
posted by Mchelly at 6:28 AM on June 27, 2012


One day, a friend was over at the house, viewing our massive DVD collection (we have loads, let's just say that). He gets near the end of the alphabet and sees "Undercover brother" next to "When Harry Met Sally...". He grins and declares, I bet I know whose is which," meaning which movie was chosen by which spouse, me (a guy) or my wife.

Imagine his surprise when I replied "I bet you can't!"

(What he didn't know was that my wife adored "Undercover Brother" and I was the one who INSISTED we have a copy of WHMS.)

WHMS is still one of my favorite movies of all time because it demonstrated to me the humanness innate in everyone -- it really informed my feminism (as much as my mother and father did), because it pointed out that particular neuroses aren't the exclusive domain of one gender or another. Other than genitalia, there are no real biological differences. We're all deeply flawed and sometimes magnificent creatures. And isn't it beautiful when two of these deeply flawed (and sometimes magnificent) creatures can bump into each other, slowly work past their biases, and become the loves of each others' lives?

Nora Ephron taught me (among other things) that soul mates aren't born, they're made.
posted by Edison Carter at 6:55 AM on June 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by Edison Carter at 6:57 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by dlugoczaj at 7:00 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by Iridic at 7:08 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by snsranch at 7:15 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by keever at 7:23 AM on June 27, 2012


I fell in love with the idea of a love like Harry and Sally when I was a teenager.

I healed from two wicked harsh breakups with You've Got Mail and her delightfully sweet interpretation of Bewitched.

Thanks Nora. You made me smile when I didn't want to.
posted by teleri025 at 7:37 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]




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posted by ahimsakid at 8:25 AM on June 27, 2012


Apropos to recent MetaFilter posts, Aaron Sorkin writes dialogue like I wished I spoke...but Ephron wrote more the way we really do.

And to think that we also lost Maurice Sendak so recently. This stings.

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posted by wenestvedt at 8:28 AM on June 27, 2012


I loved her stuff so much. Just loved it. So sad; I'd have loved to have heard about how she felt about being 90.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:31 AM on June 27, 2012


When I was very young, my mother got a package of days of the week underwear for me. When we opened it and discovered there was no Sunday, she returned to the store to complain. She was then informed why there is no Sunday. Years later in hs, I went to see WHMS. Imagine my delight and surprise when Sally tells her days of the week panties story. To me that was part of what made her work fabulous-the details that made the dialog seem so real, so authentic. This is probably why while I don't like romantic comedies I love WHMS and watch Julie/Julia when I'm down and need cheering up.

Right now I'm sitting at my desk sighing as I think of how much I will miss her and her work.

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posted by miss-lapin at 8:46 AM on June 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


This line from You've Got Mail seems apropos:

"But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings."
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:56 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by Anitanola at 9:02 AM on June 27, 2012


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posted by purple_bird at 9:08 AM on June 27, 2012


That marvelous first scene at the start of WHMS. And in honor of the OP's title, "Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash".

A few of her wise and/or witty maxims:

"When your children are teenagers, it's important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you."

"The desire to get married is a basic and primal instinct in women. It's followed by another basic and primal instinct: the desire to be single again."

"Everybody dies. There's nothing you can do about it. Whether you eat six almonds a day. Whether or not you believe in God."

"Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women." From Wellesley Commencement address, 1996

"Never marry a man you wouldn't want to be divorced from."

"If pregnancy were a book, they would cut the last two chapters."

"Having a baby is like throwing a hand grenade into a marriage."

"I don't think any day is worth living without thinking about what you're going to eat next at all times."

"Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy."

"Men dominate the conversations in Washington and therefore, as far as I am concerned, the conversations are far less interesting than those in New York."

"I am continually fascinated at the difficulty intelligent people have in distinguishing what is controversial from what is merely offensive."

"In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind."

"When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. But when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it's your laugh."

"Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair is the secret upside of death."
posted by nickyskye at 9:58 AM on June 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


Nora Ephron gave us all so much, but Heartburn will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you Nora.
posted by ambrosia at 10:00 AM on June 27, 2012


We watched WHMS a few weeks back and I was thrilled to rediscover what a great movie it was.

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I appreciate all the insight/info here as well. Definitely going to explore more of her work
posted by mmrtnt at 10:11 AM on June 27, 2012


What, no link to Linda Holmes's awesome tribute yet? My favorite one so far.

For years and years, "Baby Fishmouth!" would pop into my head randomly and I'd start laughing hysterically. Then people would of course ask why I was laughing, and I'd explain, and they'd get the joke but still stare at me weird.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:34 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


BABY FISHMOUTH
posted by zarq at 10:42 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


WHMS has been a favorite of mine from way back, but it's been years since I watched it, so I did so this morning. I worried that it wouldn't hold up, but I shouldn't have. I'd forgotten how good the narrative arc of Harry and Sally's relationship is - how their conflict goes from low-stakes acquaintances to high-stakes complex entanglement so gradually that you don't even realize how stressed you're getting on their behalf. It's a masterful piece of writing in a genre that's more often than not pat and formulaic, and it manages to be sentimental, witty, and charming without treacle. (I also love the costume design for Meg Ryan especially - for those of us who grew up in that era, it's easy to tell what year it's supposed to be.)
posted by jocelmeow at 11:01 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


miss-lapin: "When I was very young, my mother got a package of days of the week underwear for me. When we opened it and discovered there was no Sunday, she returned to the store to complain. She was then informed why there is no Sunday."

We bought days of the week underpants for my daughter a few weeks back, in the Disney Princesses and Strawberry Shortcake varieties.

I checked the packs as soon as we got them home. They include Sundays! Looks like someone listened to Nora. :)
posted by zarq at 11:10 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by koucha at 11:11 AM on June 27, 2012


Baby fishmouth! Yes, yes, I still do this!
posted by rtha at 11:40 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recently re-watched "When Harry Met Sally." It holds up very well. It should have won Best Screenplay ("Dead Poets Society" won.)
posted by Zed at 12:12 PM on June 27, 2012


jocelmeow: "WHMS has been a favorite of mine from way back, but it's been years since I watched it, so I did so this morning. "

I couldn't find my copy, so I loaded Boy in the car and went and bought another copy so I could watch it again.
posted by dejah420 at 2:19 PM on June 27, 2012


What I Will Miss/What I Won't Miss by Nora Ephron
posted by crossoverman at 2:43 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by dougkess at 3:10 PM on June 27, 2012


The Tracy/Hepburn movie Desk Set was written by her parents.
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:49 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Best quote I've seen about Nora Ephron: "She was also a journalist (and a figure in the New Journalism movement) and after her bitter divorce with Bernstein, she apparently told anyone who asked the identity of Deep Throat. Good for her, and Bernstein can go to hell for cheating on her."

Also, it's a shame Nora Ephron will be more remembered for her movies (WHEN HARRY MET SALLY is a classic; the rest are okay to middling to crappy) instead of her journalism and personal writing, which did so much for women and the cause of a not-as-strident yet just-as-important feminism. Case in point? This "Holy shit!" essay. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, take a far back seat to this:

http://www.esquire.com/features/nora-ephron-a-few-words-about-breasts-0572

Also also, when I was handling the significant otter's book this morning and she thought I would manhandle it, I actually said something that made me feel as if I were a character on GIRLS: "I'm not fucking your first-edition Nora Ephron book, okay?"

Also also also, sorry no one will read this, since it's now an old FPP.

posted by old_growler at 10:16 PM on June 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm reading it.
posted by Edison Carter at 6:03 AM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


As am I.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:00 AM on June 28, 2012


http://www.esquire.com/features/nora-ephron-a-few-words-about-breasts-0572: This article has been removed at the request of the estate of Nora Ephron.

Well, god DAMN it.
posted by endless_forms at 12:00 PM on June 28, 2012


*cough*
posted by Zed at 12:16 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Zed!
posted by trip and a half at 12:59 PM on June 28, 2012


Also. That's the link I posted up thread. :)
posted by zarq at 2:00 PM on June 28, 2012






Guernica: Weight and Wit: 'Nora Ephron's light touch was no accident.'

"At her best, Ephron was an exemplar of what George Orwell might call good writing. She avoided pretension and she didn’t complicate. “I married a journalist,” she wrote in I Remember Nothing, “and that didn’t work. But then I married another, and it did.” Two men, one happy ending."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:30 PM on July 6, 2012


Damn, go offgrid for two weeks and this is what happens.




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posted by infini at 2:56 PM on July 7, 2012


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