Her 1975 collection “Crazy Salad: Some Things about Women” included essays on vaginal deodorants, a Pillsbury bake-off, her Wellesley reunion and, one of her most reprinted articles, “A Few Words About Breasts.” She reminisced about how her flat chest made her feel like an outlier in a world that fetishized large breasts. But the trauma began at home.
“My mother was really hateful about bras,” she wrote, “and by the time my third sister had gotten to the point where she was ready to want one, my mother had worked the whole business into a comedy routine. ‘Why not use a Band-Aid instead?’ she would say.”
Her next collection, “Scribble, Scribble: Notes on the Media” (1978), was based on her tenure as a media columnist for Esquire in the mid-1970s. At the time, she was married to Bernstein, whose collaboration at The Post with Bob Woodward helped uncover the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation.
Her first marriage, to Dan Greenburg, author of books including “How to Be a Jewish Mother,” ended in divorce. She had married Bernstein in 1976 and was seven months pregnant with her second child when she discovered her husband was having an affair with Margaret Jay, the wife of the British ambassador. She delivered the child prematurely, and the marriage smashed apart in an ugly and public way, garnering coverage in People magazine and other publications.
Ms. Ephron later said that it was impossible to resist writing about her marriage, telling The Post that “although it was the most awful thing I’ve ever been through . . . it was by far the most interesting.”
The result was “Heartburn,” a roman a clef about her marriage to Bernstein with the characters changed to a cookbook author married to a randy syndicated columnist; the book also included recipes, including writer Lillian Hellman’s for pot roast. Reviews were mixed, but the notoriety surrounding its publication — one of the nation’s most prominent writers wreaking revenge on another — propelled “Heartburn” to the bestseller lists.
“Obviously, I wish Nora hadn’t written the book,” Bernstein, then working at ABC News, told The Post at the time. “But I’ve always known she writes about her life. Nora goes to the supermarket and she uses it for material.”
In 1987, she married Nicholas Pileggi, a journalist, author and screenwriter of such films as the mobster dramas “GoodFellas” (1990) and “Casino” (1995). Besides Pileggi and her three sisters, survivors include two sons from her second marriage, Jacob Bernstein of New York and Max Bernstein of Los Angeles.