Nora Ephron embraced and enriched an ever-changing audience

CREDIT: Esquire/file photo.

Daybreak Daily’s special afternoon edition focuses on Nora Ephron, who died Tuesday of complications from leukemia and pneumonia. The following are snippets from long articles about the famed journalist, author and screenwriter, and also a mystery video.

A REPORTER FIRST: per the New York Times, “. . . As a sparkling, fearless reporter in her twenties and thirties, she established a distinctive, savvy voice. She was tough yet ingratiating, always funny. Her targets were never predictable: her greatest hits included one article about having small breasts and another about the Pillsbury Bake-Off.”

THEN A SHIFT: From the same article, “. . . (G)oing Hollywood cost her credibility. “At the time Ephron started movie work, I thought that Hollywood’s gain was journalism’s loss,” Jonathan Yardley wrote in The Washington Post in a 2004 reassessment of her 1970s collections of essays. “A rereading of all three of her collections leaves me even more firmly convinced of that.”

NO MATTER: per Esquire, “. . . There's a line in Heartburn, "Show me a woman who cries when the trees lose their leaves in autumn and I'll show you a real asshole." No sh--. But nobody writes that. Women don't write that stuff. And she wasn't some anti-feminist cynic either. She wrote some of the best romantic comedies of the past two decades.”

GRIEF: per Arianna Huffington, “Nora Ephron is gone -- and I can't believe it. I had just gotten home from dinner Monday night when her son Max called me. "Mom is not going to wake up," he told me. It was impossible news to take in. Whenever I was around her through the years the air crackled with energy and ideas and one-liners -- and a sense of celebration.”

EARLY START: per the Washington Post, “. . . “Take notes,” Nora Ephron’s mother advised her as a child. “Everything is copy.” Her mother, a Broadway playwright and Hollywood screenwriter, imbued Ms. Ephron with a razor-sharp self-awareness and the ambition to transform workaday absurdities, cultural idiosyncrasies, romantic foibles and even marital calamity into essays, novels and films brimming with invitingly mordant wit.”

LOOKING IN THE MIRROR: per the Los Angeles Times, “. . .Ephron also wrote extensively about her own life, often in a sly, self-deprecating style. Her books included "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman," "I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections," "Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women," "Wallflower at the Orgy" and "Heartburn," a roman à clef about her marriage to Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein.”

CROSSING LINES: per The Hollywood Reporter, “. . . After graduating Wellesley, Ephron worked as a general-assignment reporter for the New York Post, where she first displayed her gift for keen-eyed humor as she lampooned celebrity journalists and criticized her alma mater Wellesley for turning out a generation of “docile” women. Crossing the gender line, Ephron wrote a column on women for the male magazine Esquire, where she became a contributing editor.”

LITTLE-KNOWN NUGGET: per the Wall Street Journal, “. . . Her marriage to Mr. Bernstein resulted in two sons, a novel and a movie. But it also almost produced the answer to one of the biggest riddles of the Watergate era: Who was "Deep Throat," the pseudonymous source who kept reporters Bob Woodward and Mr. Bernstein on the trail? Ms. Ephron, never one to keep quiet, said that she had figured out that it was an FBI agent named Mark Felt. (Mr. Bernstein didn't tell her.)”

POIGNANT: per New York Magazine, “I’m not used to having my heart broken by Nora Ephron. Her movies always promised a happy ending. The Empire State Building lights up for Meg Ryan, or Auld Lang Syne turns into a love song, or the right dog comes bounding through Riverside Park, followed by the right owner. The television twinkles and the credits roll, and the world seems a warmer place — for a few hours, at least. But when I heard that Ephron had died today at 71 after a secret battle with leukemia, I felt, for the first time, some Ephron-inspired heartbreak. The world felt, suddenly, a little colder.”

A NICE SAMPLE: per Nora Ephron, “A Few Words About Breasts” The essential essay from the late great writer's Esquire column.

AND FINALLY: Today’s mystery video.

--Skip Wood (Follow me on Twitter @DaybreakSkip)