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Overview for Delia Ephron
Delia Ephron

Delia Ephron


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Also Known As: Jenny Wolkind Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Profession: Writer ... screenwriter producer author


Writer-producer Delia Ephron spent the first part of her adult life denying herself of becoming what she felt she was always destined to do: write. Though her mother and father, Henry and Ph be Ephron, were successful playwrights and screenwriters, and sister Nora later blazed her own path through Hollywood, writing "When Harry Met Sally" (1989) and "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993), Ephron avoided the family trade. But at 31, she finally caved to pressure-mainly from Nora-when she wrote a series of essays for the New York Times Book Review. Eventually she segued into screenwriting and worked with sister on several film projects, becoming the quieter half of a powerful Hollywood team.

Despite the outward appearance of a comfortable upbringing, home life for Ephron was a mix of tender love, comedic one-upmanship, egoism and emotional disconnect. Both parents were alcoholic-her mother died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1971 and her father-a manic depressive-landed in a home where he degenerated further into mental illness. Meanwhile, her sibling rivalry, particularly with Nora, was heated despite the closeness of the sisters. She attended Beverly Hills High School-class of '62-and earned her Bachelor of Arts in European History from Barnard College. With encouragement from Nora, she began writing freelance for New York Magazine, Vogue and Redbook. Her essays were later compiled into the best-selling collection, How to Eat Like a Child (2001). Two other books of essays, Funny Sauce and Teen Romance, both about the challenges of life and love, were also released.

In 1989, Ephron co-wrote her first screenplay, "Brenda Starr," starring Brooke Shields as a comic-strip journalist sent to South America to cover a mad scientist hell-bent on blowing up the planet with a newly developed rocket fuel. Ephron chose to be credited as Jenny Wolkind. Her first screenwriting credit with her given name was for "This Is My Life" (1992), the first of her collaborations with Nora, who was making her debut as a director. Though the movie tanked, they tried again with "Mixed Nuts" (1994), a Christmas comedy starring Steve Martin and Madeline Kahn. That movie bombed, too, and it seemed as though the one-two combo of Team Ephron couldn't punch through paper. But their next film, "Michael" (1996) proved to be a bona fide hit. Starring John Travolta as an Earth-bound angel with a penchant for smoking, dressing like a slob and chasing women, the movie helped establish the two sisters as a Hollywood force to be reckoned with. Ephron also wrote the son "Lips Like & Blowfish" for the movie.

The collaboration kicked into high gear with their next feature, "You've Got Mail" (1998), on which Ephron also served as executive producer. A remake of "The Shop Around the Corner" (1940) that replaced letters sent between James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan with emails exchanged between Ton Hanks and Meg Ryan, the sentimental romantic comedy went on to become a $100 million hit. Meanwhile, Ephron continued to churn out books, writing two children's novels, My Life and Nobody Else's in 1991 and The Girl Who Changed the World in 1993. Her most autobiographical novel, Hanging Up, was turned into a movie directed by Diane Keaton, who also starred as a thinly-veiled Nora. "Hanging Up" (2000) also starred Meg Ryan and Lisa Kudrow as sisters coping with the degenerative mental illness suffered by their father (Walter Mathau in his last onscreen role). Dealing with many of the family problems Ephron endured while both a child and an adult, the movie lacked the necessary detachment needed to make for an emotionally satisfying experience.

Ephron released her second novel-Big City Eyes- in 2000 before returning to the world of filmmaking. She received co-screenwriting credit for "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (2005), a warm and emotional tale about four livelong friends who spend their first summer away from each other and keep in touch by sharing the same pair of jeans that magically fits their four divergent frames. Ephron then rejoined Nora to co-write "Bewitched" (2005), yet another late-60's television show remade for the big screen by a creatively challenged studio system. Starring Nicole Kidman as a witch trying to be mortal and Will Ferrell as a self-serving actor on the decline, the TV-show-within-a-movie premise failed to impress critics and audiences alike.

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