Oscar-nominated director, screenwriter and producer behind films including When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, dies at age 71.
A look back at two of her most memorable movies:
Sleepless in Seattle:
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When Harry Met Sally:
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Nora Ephron, the Oscar-nominated film-maker behind romantic comedies When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle has died, aged 71.
Ephron’s death was confirmed by her friend Richard Cohen, the Washington Post columnist. She died of complications from the blood disorder myelodysplasia, with which she was diagnosed six years ago.
The New York Times reported her son Jacob Bernstein said she died from pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukaemia.
Considered one of most influential women in Hollywood, Ephron was a director, screenwriter and producer who also wrote books including Heartburn and Crazy Salad. Her most recent film credits included the film Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep.
Heartburn, which also starred Streep in the film version, chronicled Ephron’s own dissolving marriage with journalist Carl Bernstein and was based on the novel of the same name. Other films written by her included Silkwood, which was inspired by the story of Karen Silkwood, who died in a suspicious car accident while investigating events at a plutonium plant where she worked.
Streep, who had been friends with Ephron since the pair worked on Silkwood together, told the New York Times: “Nora just looked at every situation and cocked her head and thought, ‘Hmmmm, how can I make this more fun?’ ”
In I Remember Nothing, a recent collection of her essays, Ephron described starting her career at Newsweek in New York. Moving from mail girl to “the next stage of girldom”, clipping newspaper stories, she was “quickly assured” that women didn’t become writers. She was later hired by the New York Post after catching the eye of the newspaper’s publisher by writing a parody of it. She subsequently broadened her portfolio by writing for New York, Esquire and the New York Times Magazine.
After marrying Carl Bernstein in 1976, her second husband after writer Dan Greenberg, she worked with the journalist to rewrite a film script for All the President’s Men, the book based on Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s exposure of the Watergate scandal.
It was her first attempt at writing a film script and, although it was not used in the end, it led to her being offered a job as a screenwriter.
The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, issued a statement saying Ephron’s death was “a devastating one” for the city’s arts and cultural community.
“From her earliest days at New York City’s newspapers to her biggest Hollywood successes, Nora always loved a good New York story, and she could tell them like no one else,” he said.
Tina Brown, the Daily Beast editor-in-chief and former Vanity Fair editor, said via Twitter: “The wit the warmth the wisdom of Nora Ephron. God how I will miss her.”
The usually sharp-tongued comedian Sarah Silverman also took to Twitter to express her sorrow: “Just heard about Nora Ephron. I’m so sad. A great & prolific writer, a warm & kind soul. Gone just like that.”
Ephron’s publisher confirmed earlier in the day that the 71-year-old was gravely ill, hours after one of her friends, the celebrity columnist Liz Smith, published what appeared to be a memorial.
Smith told the Associated Press she had spoken to Ephron’s son Jacob on Tuesday morning and was told that Ephron was dying. She said when she heard that funeral plans had been arranged, she published the column on the website Women on the Web.
Ephron had kept her illness largely private except for close friends and family. While promoting I Remember Nothing, she told Reuters: “At some point, your luck is going to run out … You are very aware with friends getting sick that it can end in a second.
“You should eat delicious things while you can still eat them, go to wonderful places while you still can … and not have evenings where you say to yourself, ‘What am I doing here? Why am I here? I am bored witless!'”
Asked during a Guardian Q&A in 2009 how she would like to be remembered, she replied: “As the greatest nightclub singer ever.”
Ephron, who married screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi in 1987, had two sons, Jacob and Max Bernstein.