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 was 71.
"It is with great sadness that we report that Nora Ephron has died," her publisher Alfred A Knopf, said in a statement. "She brought an awful lot of people a tremendous amount of joy. She will be sorely missed."
The New York Times cited her son, Jacob Bernstein, as saying Ephron died of pneumonia brought about by acute myeloid leukemia. Bernstein is a freelance reporter for the Times.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement calling the loss "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," Bloomberg said in a statement.
Ephron, who often parlayed her own love life into movies like "Heartburn" and gave her acerbic take on ageing in the 2010 essay collection, "I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections," had kept her illness largely private except for close friends and family.
"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 book.
The elegant Ephron, known for habitually dressing in black, urged ageing 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" with Meryl Streep playing an anti-nuclear activist.
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.