RIP Nora Ephron, 1941-2012
Ephron was a national treasure. She is probably most remembered by twentysomesthings like myself for her romantic comedies. But there is so much more to her oeuvre. The thriller Silkwood was Ephron’s first screenwriting credit. Heartburn (the thinly-veiled novel and the film based on it, for which she also wrote the screenplay) is not only a vivid and heartbreaking account of Ephron’s marriage to the philandering Carl Bernstein, it also marks a sort of coda to Watergate itself. All the president’s men might not have been able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, but Bernstein didn’t manage his own affairs (romantic and otherwise) too well, either.
But Ephron was probably at her best as an essayist. I am a big fan of Esquire magazine, and all the fine writing that has appeared in its pages over the years. Nora Ephron had a number of essays published in Esquire during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Fittingly, Esquire has a wonderful eulogy for Ephron.
They also have posted her famous essay, “A Few Words About Breasts,” which appeared in the May 1972 issue of Esquire. Man or woman, who doesn’t want to read about breasts? If for some strange reason you don’t, then have a gander at her September 1973 piece, “Battle of the Sexes on the Tennis Court.” Better yet, read ‘em both.
In whatever medium she wrote, Nora Ephron was superlatively witty. Esquire reprises some of her best lines, and the resultant Twitter hash tag #BestNoraEphronLine reveals even more.
Nora Ephron was married for 25 years to fellow scribe Nicholas Pileggi. Pileggi is no stranger to crime writing, having written the nonfiction books that were turned into Goodfellas and Casino. Pileggi also wrote the screenplays for each of the films; the Goodfellas screenplay earned him an Oscar nomination. Pileggi also chronicled the adventures of real-life private dick Irwin Blye in his 1976 book, Blye, Private Eye. Pileggi is also a writer and executive producer on the very promising new CBS show Vegas, starring Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis.
Nora Ephrons’s witty and thoughtful observations will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Nicholas Pileggi as he mourns his wife.