Nora Ephron wasn't a household name, but her movies were; everyone knows and everyone has seen "When Harry Met Sally…," which she wrote, and "Sleepless in Seattle," which she wrote and directed (everyone has also seen and loved Ephron's "You've Got Mail" and pretended they didn't — but you did, you know you did). Ephron had a hand in the creation of all of a generation's defining romantic comedies; her style and wit have already been imitated countless times and will surely be imitated countless more. To honor her memory, here is a collection of some of our favorite remembrances of Ephron from colleagues and admirers.
"She was confident and she was consistent. Her voice proved that clear logic combined with stark honesty creates the most perfect wit. I think she’ll be an even bigger icon than Mark Twain."
"It was her journalist’s curiosity that made Nora the directing talent she was. Her writing was always voice and detail. I once sent her a piece I was trying to write, and her response was three words: 'Voice! Voice! Voice!'"
"Nora Ephron would be part of any box of influences I might try to pull together that explained how I started writing, how I learned what kinds of jokes I like, and how I learned what kinds of love stories I respond to. I suspect I still accidentally try to talk like I'm in a Nora Ephron romantic comedy; I wouldn't know it, because I'd just think of it as trying to make great conversation."
"Ephron rejected the 'counterintuitive' — a crude commodity among female essayists, to write the opposite of what’s felt and true — and embraced, instead, the intuitive: good food, romantic love and full-on humanness in the form of vanity and laughter and grief and dorkiness. Ephron rejected the imperative to care about things she didn’t care about, or get alarmist and guilty about her pleasures. She also worked like a demon."
"I was lucky enough to know Nora for my entire life. Whenever I gave her something of mine to read, her first note was inevitably 'make it funnier' no matter if it was supposed to be funny or not. The second note was usually 'more honesty' — instructing me to reveal the parts of myself I find deeply embarrassing or shameful or scary because that’s what this is all about, right? It’s very hard to challenge a woman who wrote about everything from her parents to her divorce to her neck, and there would have been no point in arguing because she was right… always."
"Ephron was a Nora Ephron character — a charming and charmed reporter, falling in love with bold-faced writers, delivering effortless one-liners, and hosting dinner parties full of interesting people. Even 'Heartburn,' the book and movie she penned about the end of her marriage to Carl Bernstein, managed to avoid bitterness. Hearts get burned in her world, but not broken, at least not publicly or permanently."
Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times:
"Forget all these young chicks and their revenge albums; when Ephron had an incredibly messy and high-profile divorce from journalist and national hero Carl Bernstein, she wrote a book about it. Not only did 'Heartburn' give us one of the most insightful moments of 20th century popular fiction — 'If I throw this pie at him, I thought to myself, he will never love me. And then it hit me; he doesn't love me … I picked up the pie … and threw it' — it also included recipes."
"The thing you always got from her was that she wanted everybody to enjoy things as much as she did, so if you had dinner with her, she’d always say, 'Try that!' and try to orchestrate whatever fun you had. And she was always right! We put a line in ['When Harry Met Sally…'] where Billy says about Meg, 'She orders things in a way where even the chef didn’t realize how good it could be.' And she was like that."
"You could never catch her ‘trying,' everything seemed effortless. But as I got to know her, I understood what drove her was her acute curiosity, and her desire to observe and find out stuff. It’s what made her great as a journalist, and as a director, too. She thought fast, loved new ideas, processed swiftly, decided what was valuable and what was not with clarity."
"Like almost every heroine in every movie and every book she wrote, Nora Ephron knew how to be in love and then she knew how to love herself more for not being an asshole, for being, as she once said, 'not the victim of your life, but the heroine.'"