Thirteen facts about the four very verbal Ephron women. I am a massive fan of Nora Ephron's, and the more I learn about her, her life, and her family, the more I wonder about nature/nurture, especially when it comes to talent.
1. Phoebe Ephron was a screenwriter and playwright from the 1940s-60s. She collaborated with her husband Henry on many projects. My favorite is The Desk Set, an office comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Hepburn pointed at Phoebe and told the costume designer that Phoebe should be the model for her working woman wardrobe. Phoebe and Henry were nominated for an Oscar (Best Screenplay) in 1963 for a film called Capt. Newman, MD.
2. Phoebe and Henry had four children, all daughters: Nora (1941); Delia (1944); Hallie (1948); Amy (1952). When her girls had school or romantic problems, Phoebe would tell
them, "This will make a good story someday." She explained that when you
tell your own story, people laugh with you, not at you. All her daughters became published authors, and each has drawn directly upon her own experience in print.
|Clockwise: Nora, Hallie, Delia and Amy Ephron|
3. Nora Ephron was a fabulously successful hyphenate: journalist-screenwriter-playwright-director. She began writing for Esquire magazine in the 1970s, and her columns became best-selling books (Wallflower at the Orgy and Scribble, Scribble). In the 80s, she wrote a popular novel, Heartburn, which was turned into a major motion picture (she did the screenplay). She returned to essays in the new millennium, and her works were collected and published as I Feel Bad about My Neck and I Remember Nothing.
4. During the 1970s Nora became a media celebrity. She was a popular talk show guest and appeared in the columns for her marriages, all three to successful writers. #1 was Dan Greenburg (How to Be a Jewish Mother), #2 was Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame, and #3 was Nick Pileggi (Goodfellas and Casino).
5. In the 1980s, Nora turned her hand to screenwriting. She earned three Oscar nominations (Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle).
6. She remains one of Hollywood's most successful woman directors. Her hits include Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail and Julie and Julia.
7. Nora wrote for the stage, too. Imaginary Friends was her first Broadway play, about two famous feuding women writers (Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman). Lucky Man, which featured Tom Hanks' Broadway debut, opened in 2013 (after her death). Her most oft-performed play -- Love, Loss and What I Wore -- was co-authored with Delia Ephron.
8. Delia Ephron often collaborated with big sister Nora, but she wrote a lot on her own. One of her first successes was an illustrated children's book for adults called How to Eat Like a Child. She followed it up with an illustrated etiquette book: Do I Have to Say Hello? Aunt Delia's Manners Quiz for Kids and Grownups. Her 2016 novel, Siracusa, was well reviewed and her memoir, Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog, was a best seller.
9. Delia had a long, happy marriage that ended with her husband's death in 2015. She has written frankly about her grief, as well as her own battle with leukemia (the disease that killed Nora) and how she found love again at age 72.
10. Hallie Ephron is (guess what) a New York Times best-selling writer. She's written a half dozen standalone suspense novels (I just finished latest, Careful What You Wish For), as well as a cozy mystery series about Dr. Peter Zak, a psychiatrist who frequently consults Boston PD. For the Zak books, she uses the pseudonym GH Ephron. She's also one of the Jungle Red Writers, bloggers who "dish on writing and life." Hallie teaches workshops on how to write a mystery and then get it published.
11. Hallie, too, is a widow. After more than 50 years of marriage, her husband died last year. He was a professor and researcher who (you guessed it!) wrote a textbook on physics.
12. Amy Ephron has achieved her greatest success with a series of popular children's books (Castle in the Mist, Carnival Magic, and The Other Side of the Wall). She's also written two novels and a collection of short stories. Prior to covid, she appeared often at schools, encouraging young people in their love of books.
13. Amy is also an essayist. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Vogue, Saveur, and the LA Times. Her memoir, which includes many of her essays, is called Loose Diamonds.
I'm exhausted after just writing this blog post! How were these five women so incredibly productive? Nature? Nurture?
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