On Tuesday (June 26), columnist Liz Smith published a glowing essay memorializing her dead friend, the writer and director Nora Ephron. Just one problem: As far as the world knows, Ephron hadn’t died yet or, if she had, her family was not yet prepared to share the news.
Ephron is the Oscar-nominated screenwriter behind “Silkwood,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail” and “Julie & Julia” to name just a handful.
The column, titled simply “Liz Smith on Nora Ephron,” recounts the friendship between the two women journalists and includes this anecdote relating Ephron’s supposed feelings about how friends and family should react on the occasion of her death:
“I have a letter now in my hands: ‘Came home (from Claudia Cohen’s funeral where you, Liz, say you want nothing like it). Told Nick to make sure when I died there was a funeral and not a memorial service. Please remind him. This is the real effect of all these funerals. They give us ideas for our own. I want a big deal, and I want everyone to be basket cases.'”
Ephron may be getting her desired big deal. With no confirmed reports of her death, but no firm denial (her family refused to give an answer either way to the New York Observer), speculation continued to build Tuesday evening about whether or not Ephron was in fact dead or still with us. Though Ephron’s publisher, Knopf, did tell one New York Times writer that Ephron was still alive.
But, TMZ finally got to the bottom of the mystery, confirming news that Ephron is, in fact, “very sick” and not expected to make it through the night. Although TMZ doesn’t specify the nature of Ephron’s illness, they speculate the 71-year-old is battling cancer.