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Nora Ephron, 71, Was Good At Endings

Nora Ephron died last night at 71, of pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukemia.

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Nora Ephron was good at endings. Photo: When Harry Met Sally

Nora Ephron died last night at 71, of pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukemia. She grew up in California and wished her breasts would grow faster. She wrote for the New York Post, although it was “a terrible newspaper in the era I worked there.” Her second marriage was to the journalist Carl Bernstein, and when they divorced, she wrote a novel, Heartburn, about their relationship, which she later turned into a movie. She nabbed an Oscar nomination for her first screenplay, Silkwood. She started directing films, too, because, as The New York Times writes,

she knew from her parents’ example how powerless screenwriters are (at the end of their careers both became alcoholics) and because, as she said in her Wellesley address, Hollywood had never been very interested in making movies by or about women. She once wrote, “One of the best things about directing movies, as opposed to merely writing them, is that there’s no confusion about who’s to blame: you are.”

Here’s a guide to the movie marathon you’ll want to be planning right now, if you haven’t started in on it already.

Linda Holmes, at NPR, pins down Ephron’s impact as an artist—she did serious work and she did work that could be loved unconditionally:

When I heard that Nora Ephron had died, I felt a bit embarrassed that while I know she was an essayist of great wit, and while I’ve read some of her New Yorker pieces, and while I know she worked on more serious material like Heartburn and Silkwood and was one of a relatively few female directors who could get big projects made, my hand flew to my heart because of these pieces of pure popular film that I absolutely loved.

She was good at endings.

 

More from Smithsonian.com:

Delicious Moments on Film
The Saddest Movie in the World

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About Sarah Laskow
Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor of Smart News. Her work has appeared in print and online for Grist, GOODSalon, The American Prospect, Newsweek, New York among other publications.

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