As a filmmaker, Ms. Ephron could be derivative. “You’ve Got Mail” was partly inspired by the pen-pal romance classic “The Shop Around the Corner” (1940). Ms. Ephron also borrowed heavily from the Cary Grant-Deborah Kerr romantic drama “An Affair to Remember” (itself a remake of an earlier film) for her 1993 star-crossed romance “Sleepless in Seattle” with Hanks and Ryan.
If her career also had its share of movie duds — among them, the witness-protection comedy “My Blue Heaven” (1990) and the sitcom remake “Bewitched” (2005) — Ms. Ephron remained widely admired for a productive career in a field that often marginalized women who didn’t produce blockbusters or Oscar champs.
Nora Ephron, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind such hits as "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle" has died. She was 71.
“Nora Ephron has quietly been one of the most significant women in film history,” said movie scholar and historian Jeanine D. Basinger.
Ms. Ephron remained a prolific essayist for publications including the New York Times and O magazine. One of her last collections, “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman” (2006), was triggered by what she once called “the menopause that some of us remember so unfondly.”
In keeping with her mother’s admonition, she was candid in sharing her intimate fears of aging. She explored the loss of physical and mental acuity (“I spend time getting into shape; then something breaks”). She expressed astonishment that one of her contemporaries, former White House intern Mimi Fahnestock, had kept silent about her affair with President John F. Kennedy for more than 40 years.
Ms. Ephron wrote of being a White House press aide at the same time and lamented that she was “probably the only young woman who ever worked in the Kennedy White House whom the president did not make a pass at. Perhaps it was my permanent wave, which was a truly unfortunate mistake. Perhaps it was my wardrobe, which mostly consisted of multicolored dynel dresses that looked like distilled Velveeta cheese.”
“Perhaps it’s because I’m Jewish,” she added. “Don’t laugh, think about it, think about that long, long list of women J.F.K. slept with. Were any Jewish? I don’t think so.
“On the other hand, perhaps it’s simply because J.F.K. somehow sensed that discretion was not my middle name. I mean, I assure you if anything had gone on between the two of us, you would not have had to wait this long to find it out.”