Mourning Nora Ephron
She was never boring. In movies, novels and essays, Nora Ephron, who died yesterday at 71, had a gift for breathing life and wit into everything she touched.
We met cute. On the day Lynda Bird Johnson came to work for me at McCalls in 1966, I found Ephron, a reporter for the New York Post, wandering the office corridors and threw her out of the building.
A few years later when she started free-lancing for magazines, I sent her to interview Henry Kissinger who, between war crimes, was dating starlets and bimbos in his “Power is an aphrodisiac” days. Her piece eviscerated him with a scalpel.
A child of screenwriters, Ephron took to heart her mother’s advice to use whatever happened in life, however bad, in writing: “It’s all copy.” And so she did, from a lead essay about her breasts at puberty in a first collection to mining her marriages in novels and movies.
Husband No. 1, a genial writer, was immortalized as so paranoid he erased entries in his appointment book at the end of each day, but his foibles were only a prelude to those of her next, Carl Bernstein of “Woodward and…”
In a novel Ephron nailed him as someone “who would have sex with a venetian blind.” Harper’s got hold of and published their divorce agreement, much of it devoted to how Bernstein would be portrayed in the movie version. As a result, he morphed from Dustin Hoffman in “All the President’s Men” to Jack Nicholson in “Heartburn.”