Nora Ephron


Average rating



Nora Ephron was an American journalist, writer, and filmmaker. She is best known for her romantic comedy films and was nominated three times for the Writers Guild of America Award and the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Silkwood (1983), When Harry Met Sally... (1989), and Sleepless in Seattle (1993). She won the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay for When Harry Met Sally..., which the Writers Guild of America ranked as the 40th greatest screenplay of all time.

Ephron's first produced play, Imaginary Friends (2002), was honored as one of the ten best plays of the 2002–03 New York theatre season. She also co-authored the Drama Desk Award–winning theatrical production Love, Loss, and What I Wore. In 2013, Ephron received a posthumous Tony Award nomination for Best Play for Lucky Guy. Ephron also directed films, usually from her own screenplays, including Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You've Got Mail (1998), both starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

Ephron was born in New York City on May 19, 1941, to a Jewish family. She was the eldest of four daughters and grew up in Beverly Hills, California. Her parents, Phoebe (née Wolkind) and Henry Ephron were both East Coast-born and were noted playwrights and screenwriters. Her parents named her Nora after the protagonist in the play A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen. Nora's younger sisters, Delia and Amy, are also screenwriters. Her sister Hallie Ephron is a journalist, book reviewer, and novelist who writes crime fiction. 

Ephron's parents based the ingenue character in the play and film version of Take Her; She's Mine on the 22-year-old Nora and her letters from college; Sandra Dee played the character based on Nora in the film version, with James Stewart portraying her father. Both her parents became alcoholics during their declining years. As a high school student, Ephron dreamed of going to New York City to become another Dorothy Parker, an American poet, writer, satirist, and critic. 

Ephron has cited her high school journalism teacher, Charles Simms, as the inspiration for her pursuit of a career in journalism. She graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1958, and from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, in 1962 with a degree in political science. After graduating from Wellesley College in 1962, Ephron worked briefly as an intern in the White House of President John F. Kennedy. She also applied to be a writer at Newsweek. After she was told they did not hire women writers, she accepted a position as a mail girl.

After eventually quitting Newsweek because she was not allowed to write, Ephron participated in a class action lawsuit against the magazine for sexual discrimination, described in the book The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich. Both the lawsuit and Ephron's role were fictionalized in a 2016 Amazon series with a similar main title Good Girls Revolt.

After a satire in Monocle, she wrote lampooning the New York Post caught the editor's eye; Ephron accepted a job at the Post, where she worked as a reporter for five years. In 1966, she broke the news in the Post that Bob Dylan had married Sara Lownds in a private ceremony. Upon becoming a successful writer, she wrote a column on women's issues for Esquire. In this position, Ephron made a name for herself by writing "A Few Words About Breasts," a humorous essay about body image that "established her as the enfant terrible of the New Journalism." 

While at Esquire, she took on subjects as wide-ranging as Dorothy Schiff, her former boss, and owner of the Post; Betty Friedan, whom she chastised for pursuing a feud with Gloria Steinem; and her alma mater Wellesley, which she said had turned out "a generation of docile and unadventurous women." A 1968 send-up of Women's Wear Daily that she wrote for Cosmopolitan resulted in threats of a lawsuit from WWD.

Ephron rewrote a script for All the President's Men in the mid-1970s, along with her then-husband, investigative journalist Carl Bernstein. While the script was not used, it was seen by someone who offered Ephron her first screenwriting job for a television movie, which began her screenwriting career.

Best author’s book