When Nora Ephron graduated from college in 1962, she applied for a job as a writer at Newsweek, was told women weren't allowed to be writers there, and settled for mailgirl. I used that story as a kind of centerpiece in a book I wrote about American women because it reminded me of one of those old movies about a Broadway musical with pompous stars played by actors you've never heard of, plus Judy Garland in the back of the chorus.
We talked about the grand saga of how the bad old days gave way to the women's movement one afternoon while she was cooking lunch in the apartment on the East Side where she lived with her husband, Nick Pileggi. (She famously said that the secret to life was marrying an Italian, but, obviously, she meant the secret was marrying Nick.) When she worked as an intern at the White House, she recalled, she took a man who was her then-fiancé on a tour of the White House "past one fabulous room named after what color it was painted after another," until at the end he looked at her and said: "No wife of mine is going to work in a place like this."