* Wrote "When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle"
* Nominated for three Academy Awards
* Known for humor, also wrote books and stage plays
(Adds family statement, reactions, paras 2-6)
By Bob Tourtellotte
LOS ANGELES, June 26 Oscar-nominated
screenwriter Nora Ephron, known for romantic comedies "When
Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle," as well as books
and essays, has died in New York after battling leukemia. She
Ephron, who had suffered from acute myeloid leukemia, died
on Tuesday evening at New York's Presbyterian/Weill Cornell
Medical Center surrounded by her family, they said in a
Reactions poured in from around the arts and entertainment
community for the screenwriter who delighted millions with her
flair for comedy, romance and the ability to tackle serious
subjects with insight.
"She brought an awful lot of people a tremendous amount of
joy. She will be sorely missed," her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf,
said in a statement.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called her death "a
devastating one" for the city's arts and cultural community, and
the Los Angeles-based Directors Guild of America called her "an
inspiration for women filmmakers when there were few."
Writer and actress Carrie Fisher called Ephron "inspiring,
intimidating, and insightful" and actor Martin Landau said she
was "able to accomplish everything she set her mind to with
Ephron, who often parlayed her own love life into movies
like "Heartburn" and gave her acerbic take on aging in the 2010
essay collection, "I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections,"
had kept her illness largely private except for close friends
"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," Ephron told Reuters in a 2010 interview while promoting
The elegant Ephron, known for habitually dressing in black,
urged aging friends and readers to make the most of their lives.
"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!'" she told Reuters.
She began her career as a journalist but transitioned into
movies, leaving behind a legacy of more than a dozen films,
often featuring strong female characters, that she either wrote,
produced or directed. She was nominated for three Academy Awards
for "Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle" and the drama
"Silkwood" in which Meryl Streep played an anti-nuclear
Other romantic comedies included "You've Got Mail," starring
Meg Ryan, and her last film "Julie & Julia" in 2009, which had
Streep portraying the fearless celebrity cook Julia Child.
Ephron also wrote for the stage, authoring the 2002 play
"Imaginary Friends" about the rivalry of authors Mary McCarthy
and Lillian Hellman, and "Love, Loss and What I Wore," with her
sister Delia, in 2009.
NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, HOLLYWOOD
Born May 19, 1941 in New York City and raised in Beverly
Hills by screenwriter parents, Ephron worked briefly as a White
House intern before going into journalism. She quickly became
known as a humorist with essays on subjects ranging from food
and fashion to feminism.
She started in the entertainment industry while married to
her second husband, The Washington Post's famed Watergate
investigative reporter Carl Bernstein.
She helped rewrite a version of the script for the movie
"All The President's Men," about Bernstein and Bob Woodward's
uncovering of the political scandal that led to the resignation
of Richard Nixon in 1974. Although that screenplay was not used,
it led to a TV movie screenwriting job for Ephron.
Her big movie break came after a messy divorce from
Bernstein, which was the genesis for her 1983 novel "Heartburn"
that she later adapted into the bittersweet hit film of the same
name starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep.
That film ushered in a string of box office successes in the
late 1980s and 1990s, including "When Harry Met Sally,"
"Michael" with John Travolta, "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've
Got Mail," that saw Ephron gradually add producer and director
to her resume and become one of Hollywood's most successful
makers of romantic comedies.
Although her movies raked in tens of millions of dollars at
box offices worldwide, Ephron never won the industry's highest
honor, an Academy Award.
After box office flops "Hanging Up" and "Lucky Numbers" in
2000, Ephron focused on essays, writing for the stage, and
blogging for the online news site The Huffington Post.
Her humorous 2006 collection "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And
Other Thoughts on Being a Woman" became a bestseller on the New
York Times list.
At the time of her death, Ephron had a biographical movie
about singer Peggy Lee in development that was due to star Reese
Witherspoon, according to the Internet movie website, IMDB.com.
Ephron was married three times and is survived by her
husband of more than 20 years, writer Nicholas Pileggi, and two
children with Bernstein.
(Additional reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy.; Editing by
Christopher Wilson, Philip Barbara and David Brunnstrom)