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Nora Ephron Dies at 71

By Julie Shapiro | June 26, 2012 9:46pm | Updated on June 27, 2012 10:24am
Writer and director Nora Ephron died June 26, 2012.
Writer and director Nora Ephron died June 26, 2012.
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Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — Nora Ephron, a native New Yorker and filmmaker known for her witty romantic comedies and sharp, humorous essays, died Tuesday evening in Manhattan. She was 71.

Ephron, who was best known for romantic-comedy hits including "Sleepless in Seattle" and "When Harry Met Sally," was suffering from acute myeloid leukemia and had also contracted pneumonia, the New York Times reported. She died in Manhattan.

Ephron was an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director who also had a long career as a journalist and an essayist, writing for the the New York Post, New York magazine, the New York Times Magazine and many other publications. Born on the Upper West Side, Ephron set many of her most famous films in the Big Apple, including "You've Got Mail" and her most recent movie, "Julie & Julia."

New York landmarks figured prominently in many of Ephron's best-known scenes, from the romantic climax atop the Empire State Building in "Sleepless in Seattle" to Meg Ryan's faked orgasm at Katz's Delicatessen in "When Harry Met Sally."

Ephon was beloved for her smart, funny voice, which she used to illuminate the often fraught relations between men and women. Ephron's work also spoke to women who were moving toward middle age, particularly her 2006 essay collection "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman" and her most recent book, "I Remember Nothing: And other Reflections."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Ephron's death "devastating."

"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," Bloomberg said.

"The books, movies and plays that she set in the world’s greatest city are classics that will be enjoyed for generations, but New York City will miss Nora very much. She was a dear friend, and her husband Nick and the rest of her family are in my thoughts and prayers."

Ephron's many friends and fans mourned her death on Twitter Tuesday night.

"Very sad to hear about Nora Ephron," the writer Susan Orlean tweeted. "She was a marvelous spirit and writer with guts and humor."

"If there's any night the Empire State Building should go dark it's tonite," wrote @qualityrye. "Nora Ephron was one of NYC's romantic ambassadors to the world."

An actress who goes by @MissTwist wrote, "This breaks my heart, I've always loved & admired her work."

Ephron is survived by husband Nicholas Pileggi — who wrote the book "Wiseguy," which became the movie "Goodfellas" — along with sons Jacob and Max and sisters Delia, Amy and Hallie Ephron, the Times reported.

Memorial details were not made immediately available, but a funeral is reportedly planned for Thursday morning.