Nora Ephron, who died Tuesday at 71, had a diverse writing career that extended well beyond the romantic comedy films that made her famous. Over the decades, she worked as a journalist for the New York Post and several magazines, wrote a handful of books and, relatively late in life, became a playwright.
Ephron's belated arrival to the world of theater is surprising given her talent for witty dialogue. In 2002 she penned "Imaginary Friends," which debuted at the Old Globe in San Diego before transferring to Broadway. The play with music traced the intense rivalry between Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy, played by Swoosie Kurtz and Cherry Jones, respectively.
"Imaginary Friends," which featured music by Marvin Hamlisch, demonstrated Ephron's ability to create complex female characters and provide them with dialogue that revealed their intelligence and deep-seated insecurities.
A reviewer for The Times wrote that the characters' "ferocious but neatly calibrated put-downs of each other become linguistic blood sport. And wholly entertaining it is."
In 2008, Ephron teamed up with her sister, Delia, to write the play "Love, Loss and What I Wore," adapted from a book by Ilene Beckerman. The show, structured as a series of comic monologues, has had an extended off-Broadway run in New York and opened at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in 2010.
Ephron and her sister spoke to The Times when the play opened at the Geffen. The show "isn't really about clothes or fashion. It's about women's lives," said Nora.
Ephron was reportedly working on a new play before she died. "Lucky Guy" is a drama about the late journalist Mike McAlary, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his commentary on the Abner Louima case for the New York Daily News. "Lucky Guy" will reportedly star Tom Hanks when it opens on Broadway, possibly in January.