Nora Ephron was educated at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. She was an acclaimed essayist (Crazy Salad 1975), novelist (Heartburn 1983), and had written screenplays for several popular films, all featuring strong female characters, such as anti-nuclear activist Karen Silkwood (Silkwood (1983), co-written with Alice Arlen) and a mobster’s feisty independent daughter Cookie Voltecki (Cookie (1989), also co-written with Arlen). Ephron’s hard-headed sensibilities helped make Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally… (1989) a clear-eyed view of modern romance, and she earned an Oscar nomination for her original screenplay.
Ephron made her directorial debut with the comedy This Is My Life (1992), co-scripted by her sister Delia Ephron, which starred Julie Kavner as a single mother who struggles to establish herself as a stand-up comedienne. Ephron followed up by helming and co-writing Sleepless in Seattle (1993), a romantic comedy in which lovers Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are separated for most of the film. Less about love than about love in the movies, the film drew inspiration from the beloved shipboard romance An Affair to Remember (1957), starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.
Ephron was born in New York City, the daughter of stage and screen writing team Henry Ephron and Phoebe Ephron, who used her infancy as the subject of their play “Three’s a Family” and based their comedy Take Her, She’s Mine (1963) on letters their daughter wrote them from college. Their screenplays include There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), Carousel (1956) and Desk Set (1957). Formerly married to novelist Dan Greenburg and investigative journalist Carl Bernstein, Ephron was wed to crime journalist and screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, at the time of her passing, who wrote such films as Goodfellas (1990). She was of Russian Jewish descent.
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