In light of this week's news of the passing of noted author, playwright, producer and director Nora Ephron, today we are highlighting some of the most memorable moments from her accomplished and versatile career onscreen and onstage. Ephron's artistic output consisted of collections of essays, memoirs, novels, screenplays, feature films, plays and producing duties on projects close to her heart, as well as a considerable amount of awareness raising for women's causes and general charitable work for the arts. While perhaps best known for her much-loved trio of romantic comedies WHEN HARRY MET SALLY…, SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE and YOU'VE GOT MAIL, Ephron also penned the screenplay for the Mike Nichols biopic SILKWOOD about whistleblower Karen Silkwood, as well as wrote and directed the recent hit comedy JULIE & JULIA, re-teaming with her friend and consistent collaborator, three-time Oscar-winner Meryl Streep. Incidentally, Streep actually played Ephron - or at least a thinly-veiled version of her - in the 1986 Mike Nichols film HEARTBURN, based on Ephron's biographical novel of the same name. While BEWITCHED, LUCKY NUMBERS and HANGING UP may have failed to ignite, Ephron created fine films with the angelically-themed John Travolta starrer MICHAEL and the Julie Kavner vehicle THIS IS YOUR LIFE, as well as crafted indelible characters in screenplays such as COOKIE, MIXED NUTS and MY BLUE HEAVEN. Closing out her career, Ephron showcased Streep once again and rising star Amy Adams shone brightly in the fun and frothy JULIE & JULIA, ending Ephron's film output with a hit to go along with her successful early beginnings as an essayist, humorist and cultural commentator - having penned essay collections in the 1970s such as WALLFLOWER AT THE ORGY, CRAZY SALAD: SOME THINGS ABOUT WOMEN, SCRIBBLE, SCRIBBLE: NOTES ON THE MEDIA, and, more recently, I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK: AND OTHER THOUGHTS ON BEING A WOMAN and I REMEMBER NOTHING: AND OTHER REFLECTIONS - who famously parlayed those skills into TV writing, and, then, her Oscar-nominated work on SILKWOOD, which is arguably her finest dramatic work of all. As far as Ephron's stage ventures are concerned, besides the forthcoming musical adaptation of SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE currently being developed under director Lonny Price and Ephron's writing of next season's purportedly Tom Hanks-headlining Broadway bow in LUCKY GUY, Ephron wrote the 2002 Jack O'Brien play with music (by no less than Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia) IMAGINARY FRIENDS, starring Cherry Jones and Swoozie Kurtz, as well as the recently-closed Off Broadway smash, LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE, co-written with her sister, Delia Ephron. JFK White House intern to New York Post columnist to celebrated essayist to Oscar-nominated screenwriter, director and producer, Ephron left a significant mark on society and also crafted some heartwarming - or, should that be: heartburning - stories along the way.
Her Blue Heaven
So, let's celebrate the life and career of Nora Ephron by looking at some of the trailers, clips, interviews and moments by which we may most fondly remember her razor-sharp rapier wit and generous, humorous heart - and, most of all, her unmistakable way with a word. As she herself wrote in her own six-word memoir in the collection NOT QUITE WHAT I WAS PLANNING: SIX-WORD MEMOIRS BY WRITERS FAMOUS AND OBSCURE, "Secret To Life, Marry An Italian," - and she did (GOODFELLAS and CASINO scribe Nicholas Pileggi).
First up, here is the trailer for Ephron's first feature film screenplay fully realized, the Mike Nichols helmed Karen Silkwood biopic SILKWOOD, starring Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell and Cher.
Next, check out the trailer for the 1986 Mike Nichols film HEARTBURN, based on Ephron's own experiences discovering her husband's affair (in real-life: Carl Bernstein; onscreen: Jack Nicholson), played in the film by none other than Meryl Streep.
Ephron exited the 80s in a major way by writing and directing WHEN HARRY MET SALLY…, starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. The Rob Reiner-directed romantic comedy is oft-quoted to this day, more than twenty years later, if only for the "I'll have what she's having" restaurant orgasm scene. Enjoy the trailer below.
Also, Ephron teamed up with director Susan Seidelman and SILKWOOD co-writer Alice Arlen on the 1989 film comedy COOKIE, starring Dianne Wiest, Peter Falk and Emily Lloyd.
The 1990s were a very fruitful decade for Ephron following the smashing success of WHEN HARRY MET SALLY…. First, Ephron wrote the contemporary comedy MY BLUE HEAVEN, directed by Herbert Ross and starring Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Deborah Rush and Joan Cusack. View the trailer below.
Ephron's feature film directorial debut came with the showbiz movie THIS IS MY LIFE, featuring a tremendous central performance by THE SIMPSONS standout Julie Kavner. Sample Carly Simon performing the alluring theme from the film, "Love Of My Life", in this superb vintage GOOD MORNING AMERICA performance from 1992.
Ephron's next directorial effort would be a comedy classic to rival even WHEN HARRY MET SALLY…, SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE. Be sure to take a look at the trailer for this timeless tale of a seemingly misfit pair (Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan) struck by Cupid's arrow, featuring a stupendous soundtrack by Harry Connick, Jr..
The very next year, Ephron once again teamed up with Steve Martin to create MIXED NUTS, which was yet another comedy centering on Ephron's own unique brand of idiosyncratic characters and her special twists on the times and tropes of modern life.
In 1996, Ephron found yet another unusual property by taking the directorial duties on the John Travolta angel-themed romance MICHAEL, co-starring Andie MacDowell and William Hurt.
Ephron joined Travolta once again for LUCKY NUMBERS, this time with Lisa Kudrow joining in on the fun, with winning results.
Closing out the century in a big way, YOU'VE GOT MAIL was a smash success along the lines of WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, cementing Ephron's place as the queen of romantic comedy in the 1990s - and beyond. The trailer for the tech-themed Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan SHOP AROUND THE CORNER reboot is below.
Based on her sister's book of the same name, HANGING UP was not the success Nora and sister Delia Ephron hoped, though director Diane Keaton managed to escape relatively unscathed.
BEWITCHED was yet another unfortunate misfire of the 00s - this time a big budget one with Ephron in the director's chair - featuring Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell and Shirley MacLaine.
JULIE & JULIA showed Ephron back in top form, while also offering the opportunity for Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, Amy Adams and Chris Messina to shine like melted butter - oh, yeah, and lots of that, too; it being a Julia Child movie.
Meryl Streep and Nora Ephron team up for a tag-team interview with Charlie Rose in this riveting four-part discussion in promotion of their final film collaboration, JULIE & JULIA.
In celebration of Meryl Streep at the AFI Tribute, Nora Ephron recounts a guffaw-inducing scenario all too true to life - that of Meryl Streep, of all people, portraying her in HEARTBURN.
Following that, see Ephron pay tribute to lauded theatre and film director Mike Nichols (who was responsible for directing both SILKWOOD and HEARTBURN) at his AFI Tribute a few years ago.
A self-professed highlight of her professional career, see Ephron address the 1996 graduating class of Wellesley College, her alma mater, with this full-length capture of her complete - and completely remarkable - speech.
Ephron returns ten years later, in 2006, at the Wellesley Alumnae Achievement Awards, once again displaying her trademark ease in winning over a room as only she could.
Ephron makes her characteristic caustic observations in this ingratiating EARLY COFFEE interview with Rebecca Jarvis to promote her final memoir, I REMEMBER NOTHING: AND OTHER REFLECTIONS.
Ephron joins Barbara Walters and the ladies of THE VIEW in this amusing interview from 2010 - note that Joy Behar leads the chat, having had a small role in THIS IS YOUR LIFE nearly twenty years before.
What a life! What a career! As Ephron herself wrote in HEARTBURN, "You can settle for reality, or you can go off, like a fool, and dream another dream." Keep dreaming!