Essays · Features and Columns

Fade Out: Nora Ephron (1941–2012)

By  · Published on June 27th, 2012

On June 26th, writer/director Nora Ephron died at the age of 71. According to CNN, she was undergoing treatment for acute myeloid leukemia.

After a stellar career as a journalist and essayist – writing sharply and often with caustic humor – she got her start in film with television (writing an episode for Adam’s Rib in 1973 and penning the TV film Perfect Gentlemen in 1978. Her first feature as a writer was Silkwood, a biopic exploring the mysterious death of whistle-blower Karen Silkwood which earned Ephron an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and began a professional relationship with Meryl Streep.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Ephron invented the modern romantic comedy. With When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and others, she crafted complex, charming characters that better mirrored a balance between how we are and how we wish we were. She continued that legacy through to 2009’s Julie and Julia – capping her career as it began: with an Academy Award nomination for Meryl Streep.

Her talent was towering, something proven perhaps best by Hollywood’s inability to recreate her skills despite years and billions of dollars trying. She was a magical kind of filmmaker with sensibilities that will absolutely be missed.

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