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Macaroons and funny lines at star-studded memorial for Nora Ephron

July 10, 2012
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When one of Hollywood's greatest storytellers bowed out, she did so as humorously and generously as she had lived. Nora Ephron, writer of Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally, left strict instructions to friends such as Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Steven Spielberg and Steve Martin on her memorial service.Following the plans in a folder marked 'exit', her son Jacob told speakers including Tom, his wife Rita Wilson and Nora's sister Delia: "Don't be afraid to be funny".

Nora Ephron

In honour of her fondness for food, recipes were handed out with the program – one for coconut macaroons that "makes about 22".There were frequent gastronomic references throughout the service for Nora, who also directed Julie & Julia, a film about the art of French cooking.These included the collection of at least 10 jams in her fridge and her resistance to an early Thanksgiving dinner. "We always had it at 7, like civilized people," her other son Max joked.


Before the doors opened at the Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center, the invitation-only crowd chatted in the lobby while sipping champagne.Speaking before the service began, journalist Lynn Sherr told the New York Times: "Nobody knows whether to treat it as a cocktail party or not. And Nora would have loved that." Meryl Streep, the star of Julie & Julia, was also among those paying tribute at the memorial.She said: "How do you talk about a friend who said everything you wished you could say, everything you wanted to say in the world, but better, shorter and funnier?"Sometimes you have to wait until your friend leaves the room to say how great she is," she added. "Because she absolutely would never put up with any of this if she were in earshot. "The last speaker to address the invitees was Nora's assistant of 14 years, J J Sacha.

Nora Ephron Memorial

Before hitting play on a  reel of her film highlights, he introduced himself with the words many had heard him say on the phone – "Nora Ephron's office".The 800 guests at the memorial included Bette Midler, Jon Hamm, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew Broderick.

Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, Annette Bening, Lauren Bacall, Diane Stewart and Barbara Walters also paid their respects. Nora was 71 when she passed away on June 26 in a New York hospital from pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukaemia.

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