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Fredonia Shakespeare Club hears about Nora Ephron

Joyce Haines

The Fredonia Shakespeare Club met for its fifth regular meeting of the 2016-2017 year at the home of Maggie Bryan-Peterson.  President Judi Lutz Woods presided with 13 members present. Woods welcomed the club members to the 131st year of our club.

The topic for the year is “Women Artists, Authors, Designers & Entrepreneurs.” Joyce Haines presented her paper titled “Nora Ephron.”  Haines dedicated her paper to one of the members, Florence McClellan. Her paper is summarized as follows:

Nora Ephron, born in 1941, was the eldest of four daughters and grew up in Beverly Hills. Her parents were both noted playwrights and screenwriters. Nora grew up hearing her mother say “Everything is Copy” and proved it by writing a play based on the letters Nora sent home from college. Her sisters Delia and Amy are screenwriters, while her sister Hallie is a journalist, book reviewer and novelist who writes crime fiction.

Ephron graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1958 and indicated her interest in journalism during her freshman year. She graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts in 1962. From there she went to New York City for a job at Newsweek, but it was as a mail girl and clipper with no chance of advancement. She later went to work at The Post, where she became a reporter and remained for five years. Her career spanned many years as a screenwriter and journalist and she was also an essayist, novelist, producer, and blogger. There are a plethora of her works available: plays, books, movies, all illustrating her wit and talent.

After a divorce from Carl Bernstein in 1979 she was inspired to write “Heartburn” which was made into a movie. She was funny and used her humor to dispel the hurt and pain of divorce. Much of her humor is seen in her writings about necks, maintenance of skin and hair, bras and purses and more in her essays for “Esquire.”

Her more recent movie was “Julie and Julia” about cooking for which she had great passion. She often entertained and did her own cooking eventually self-publishing a cookbook for her friends and family. The Shakespeare Club members received a handout with two of Ephron’s favorite recipes.

When asked to give a commencement address at Wellesley College in 1996, she advised the students, “Maybe young women don’t wonder if they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all.”

The women’s movement had reinforced her stand on feminism as a strong, no-nonsense woman.

Her plays included “Lucky Guy,” written two weeks prior to her death that posthumously won her a Tony for Best Play.  “Love, Loss and What I Wore,” a play written with her sister Delia, played to sold out audiences in Canada, New York City, and Los Angeles. Haines noted that she herself had performed the play in Marathon, Florida, also to a sold-out audience.  Haines proceeded to read a few lines of the play demonstrating  Ephron’s wit and poignancy in the play.

While Ephron was very open about her life as was evident in her writings, she was secretive about her six-year battle with cancer. Many were shocked to learn of her death in 2012 at the age of 71 in 2012. More than 800 attended her funeral and many Hollywood stars gave eulogies at her memorial service.

In Haines’ conclusion she recommended members read three books, “The Most of Nora Ephron,” Richard Cohen’s “She Made Me Laugh” and “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” in addition to watching DVDs of her movies and viewing the Amazon series of “Good Girls Revolt.”

Bryan-Peterson called the members to tea where Dr. Minda Rae Amiran assisted at the tea table.

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