Nora Ephron (1941-2012)

Nora Ephron (1941-2012) 

Nora Ephron is dead.  I find that a bit hard to believe because (a) I didn’t know she was ill and (b) she wasn’t that old where one started asking, “Gee, I wonder if s/he is still alive?”  Ephron was a 1962 graduate of one of the Seven Sisters, Wellesley College, in Massachusetts.  This link is her 1996 Wellesley Commencement address and you’ll find it very entertaining, which is what we all know about Ms. Ephron.  You can also read about her thoughts regarding aging here.

Nora Ephron was a Renaissance woman: novelist, writer, film director, comedian, playwright, and Huffington Post blogger.  She is remembered for many memorable films, Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, all three of which received Academy Award nominations for best original screenplay, and Heartburn, about her marriage breakup with Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein.

I’m very sad about the passing of Ms. Ephron, who I had the pleasure of hearing speak in 2009.  She introduced her good friend Arianna Huffington at a Manhattan event where Arianna was about to be presented with a lifetime achievement award.  Ephron was side-splitting funny.  She had no off button, as you will hear in the commencement address.  She is that unusual type of person, a real “woman’s woman.”  We don’t have enough of these women in the world: strong, funny, vulnerable in that secure way of knowing she is smart.  Ephron wrote and spoke from a woman’s point of view, which isn’t a bad thing.  She made women feel really good about being women.  I will miss her and am sorry she is gone at 71.  What stories did she have left to tell?  We won’t know.

16 thoughts on “Nora Ephron (1941-2012)

  1. To be honest, I had no clue who Ms. Ephron was until I read the article. No sooner had I finished reading this, I realized I would have wanted to know about her a little earlier, for “Sleepless in Seattle” is one of my favorite movies. The script is beautifully written, witty conversation between the widow and the son, the frustration and the stress that Meg Ryan holds for her fiancé, several coincidental encounters Tom Hanks meets with an unknown woman. It is not so hard to imagine what will happen but it keeps the audience anticipating for the happy ending. To me, this movie is a beautiful homage to “An Affair to Remember” which makes the movie even more compelling for a film lover. Since “Sleepless in Seattle” is the only movie that I have seen directed by Ms.Ephron, I would like to try the other two as well. I’d have to apologize for making this comment a movie review than the feedback towards the article of Ms. Ephron’s death. It is always sad to think of how much people who left us still had to tell us. May she rest in peace.

  2. Risa, she had many stories left to tell. That’s been the persistent theme throughout my lectures. Tell your stories. Don’t wait. Life is short. We will watch Nora Ephron’s 20-minute commencement speech to her alma mater, Wellesley College, in class. It’s important that you know who she is/was. I’m still a bit stunned at her passing, having seen her speak in person just three years ago. She had a youthful energy that belied her age.

  3. Ms. Ephron’s commencement speech was very encouraging and hopeful. I just wish I knew more about her. In the speech she was talking about how the US does not like to change, but this can also be said for Japan. As it was referenced in your other article about “weird Japan,” women in Japan are still seen to be dominated and controlled by men. Listening to her stories about her days in Wellesley College, I feel that situations are being improved, but not enough. I have often been afraid for changes or challenges, but I am convinced that waiting for something will not do anything for you. As Ms. Ephron said to “be the heroine of your life,” I want to make the most of it.

  4. I did not know who Nora Ephron was until this post, but I LOVE her movies. And after watching the commencement speech, I absolutely love her too. My favorite part is the end, “Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.” Her speech was witty and so inspiring. In Japan, you’re taught to not cause trouble. You have to follow the rules. You have to be like everybody else. I think a lot of women in Japan still struggle in the workforce since it is such a male-dominated country. They have to remain reserved and modest, never confident and outspoken. The world, especially Japan, needs more women like Nora Ephron.

  5. Amen, sister. You pulled out one of my favorite quotes. In fact, I posted the “choose not to be a lady” quote to my FB wall and it garnered a lot of “likes,” most all of whom were women. We all feel that way at times, whether we are American women, Thai women, Japanese women, Brazilian women. I think the reserved nature and need to follow the rules is more prescribed for women in Japan. But I strongly believe that for Japan’s sake, it must support more women in the workplace, in the Diet (not just on a diet), more women in white collars and not just oversize bows. You expressed yourself very well with those comments.

  6. To be honest, I did not know who Nora Ephron was either. My first impression of her was just a famous hard-working woman writer and director, but once I saw the video, my thoughts of her changed. The video really intrigued me, and I feel it was a shame not knowing her earlier. It would be great to see someone like her in Japan too, who can move people and support women strongly. As a female myself, I could really understand what she was trying to say in her speech. It is such a shame for the world to lose her. May she rest in peace!

  7. I did not know her either before I read this article. The speech was really powerful, funny, persuasive and attractive. She told the graduates not to be deceived by the superficial things (e.g. there having been an article about the graduates of Wellesley in the New York Times or the number of working women having increased) because there were still gaps between men and women such as differences in salary. She told them to be aware of the fact that women and men were still not equal. I think this what is necessary to achieve gender equality. Women themselves have to be aware of this gender gap to get the equal rights that men have. She made this speech about 15 years ago. However, this speech must enlighten many women in the world about the gender inequality even now.

  8. Nora Ephron’s speech was amazing in a way that although the problems of women in society have been a huge problem in the past, she was somewhat able to joke about it. Despite all of the struggles women still have to face in society, she encouraged women that they have the same rights as men. I think this speech struck many people’s hearts, as it did mine. I don’t think it’s too late to make her well known of her position in feminism. R.I.P. Nora Ephron.

  9. Before I read this post, I had never heard of Ms. Ephron or her movies. Her speech was very catchy and persuasive. I could not help myself from saying wow while listening. She really made me feel confident in being a woman, especially in Japan, where gender inequality still remains. For sure I can say that her speech is one of the best I have heard. I look forward to watching her movies, but feel sad that I did not know her when she was active in her career. May she rest in peace.

  10. When I read this headline nothing really struck me at first because I really didn’t know who she was. No doubt that it is a sad thing but It felt like it’s just another person passing. However this all changed after reading this article and watching the commencement speech. I felt that she was a strong person and a great inspiration. I believe we need more people like her and that it’s a pity she had to die so young. We need her in countries where gender still matters and we need her in Japan too. I just pray that she rests in peace.

  11. Honestly, I had never heard of Nora Ephron before I read the article. She gave a very touching and moving speech even though I am male. In the past, positions for women were really weak in society. I thought she was one of the pioneers to get rid of segregation and to hold up positions of women because she seemed to give strong confidence to many women and made efforts to do it. For me, women are as strong as men or maybe even stronger than the latter in many fields. Thus I want to learn from women.

  12. After listening to Ms. Ephron’s speech, I felt that it is very important to change. However, it is very difficult to do that. Actually, I tried to change the system of the golf team when I became the captain, but it was so hard. I faced a lot of difficulties. I was about to decide not to change it, but I never gave up. As a result, the team improved drastically. So from this experience, I learned that to change is very difficult, but it is necessary to improve.

  13. I didn’t know much about her before I read the article even though I knew her work. She is happy, honest and brave. Like in the article she says how many people say it’s better to be aged but she denied it. As a woman I am scared of being aged but I try to believe we age like wine: older is better. I feel like many people think that way too, because if aging is not a good thing we have to be scared to live everyday but she said the truth of being aged. That is a pretty brave thing to do. Somehow her story about being aged reminded me of “Death Becomes Her.” I think I know why the two main characters were so obsessed with youth and beauty.

  14. The term feminist is still uncommon in Japan. When I hear that someone is feminist, I tend to expect that the person has an extreme idea about the rights of women. However, her speech changed the negative image of feminists and made me think that Japanese women should stand forward and take the leadership in the society. Since the population is decreasing, educated and strong women can take parts in the society where male labor is lacking.

  15. Megumi, I’m so impressed by your words. I would encourage you to keep striving as an educated and strong woman, in service to family, country, and world. Women need to support each other in our work and work more together as men are already doing.

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