(CBS News) In the 1989 film "When Harry Met Sally," Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan were speaking lines written by Nora Ephron, who died Tuesday at age 71. News of her passing has touched countless people, including our Nancy Giles:
I kind of wanted to BE Nora Ephron: a brilliant and witty writer of essays, screenplays, books, and a film director to boot! Oscar-nominated, New York Times bestseller, and someone who could sell out a show merely with the title, "An Evening With Nora Ephron."
But when I ran into her at the drugstore next to her apartment building, or she came to a comedy show featuring me and my fellow malcontents, it was like running into a really cool, funny, famous friend.
Nora Ephron employed me three times. About a year ago I was cast in "Love, Loss, and What I Wore," a stage play Nora wrote with her sister, Delia, that shared stories of women's complex relationships with their clothing and accessories. The show was quirky, hilarious, and deeply moving.
Every four weeks a new cast rotated in, which meant that the show employed hundreds of actresses. What a gift that was!
The two other times were more like "almosts." Back in the '90s I was cast in a little film she directed that no one's ever heard of, called "Sleepless in Seattle." It was a small part, a waitress, but I was thrilled . . . until I had to turn it down because I was scheduled to work on a TV series. It's one of those things I try not to think about, that I always think about.
Two years later I got my first real chance to work with Nora on the movie "Mixed Nuts," one of her few films that didn't do so well at the box-office.
But I loved watching her work. She was relaxed and happy, good to her actors, open to suggestions, but ultimately knew what she wanted. When my scene ended up on the cutting room floor, she actually sent me the cut scene with a note saying, "I hope you'll forgive me and give me another shot another time."
Nora Ephron wanted ME to "forgive" HER? And give HER another shot? Crazy, right? Why did she even care? But she did, and that was classy.
When "You've Got Mail" hit the screens, I rolled my eyes and thought, "Gee, will it all work out for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan?" And OF COURSE they got together, and I cried at the ending, and felt goofy and hopeful. It's still one of my favorite movies, and I feel that way every time I watch.
So actually, Nora Ephron, I should thank you for all of it: your great stories, your being a job creator, and for your eloquent and optimistic celebration of life.