On this day: Nora Ephron is born

May 19 1941: Writer, producer, wit


One of the most prominent female filmmakers working today, Nora Ephron's life has included a high-profile marriage and divorce, critical and popular acclaim and a close-up view of the Watergate investigation.

Ephron grew up in Beverley Hills with her Jewish parents and three younger sisters. She studied at Wellesley College in Massachusetts – Hillary Clinton enrolled there a few years later - and, graduated in 1962.

After a brief stint as an intern in the Kennedy White House, she began working as a reporter for the New York Post. After finding success as a print writer, she branched out in screenwriting and found Hollywood fame with 80s hits including When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. More recent work has included You've Got Mail and Julie and Julia, as well as book on ageing.

Her personal life at times seemed to mirror the films she made. Divorced from her first husband, she married Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein in 1976, discovering while pregnant with their second child of his affair with the British politician Margaret Jay. She later turned the events into a novel, which then became a film. In 1987 she married for the third time.

For years the secret of the mysterious "Deep Throat" source behind the Watergate revelations was under wraps. By virtue of her marriage to Bernstein, she solved it far earlier than the rest of the world, later writing on the Huffington Post: "For many years, I have lived with the secret of Deep Throat's identity.

"It has been hell, and I have dealt with the situation by telling pretty much anyone who asked me, including total strangers…Not for nothing is indiscretion my middle name."

What the JC said: Look at her films, or read her prose, and those one-liners come at you from out of the blue like perfectly formed bolts of unexpected pleasure. Even more remarkably is true of the conversation….She'd rather undermine her own point than let a good line get away.

See more from the JC archives here.

    Last updated: 10:04am, May 19 2011