Nora Ephron, the screenwriter-turned-director best known for her Oscar-nominated work on “Sleepless in Seattle,” “When Harry Met Sally…” and “Silkwood,” has passed away according to multiple news reports. She was 71.
News broke of Ephron’s illness and impending death pre-emptively, when her close friend Liz Smith posted a farewell letter to the “Julie & Julia” director. The column — which addressed Ephron in the past tense — left many confused as Ephron’s publisher subsequently told The New York Times writer Julie Bosman that she was still alive. However, later in the day it was confirmed that the writer-director has in fact died.
The exact cause of death is as of yet unknown, although friends and family confirmed to ABC News that she had been suffering from leukemia.
Many were surprised to find out about the illness, a fact Smith attributed to Ephron working on “more exotic things.” “People who never dreamed she was ill, are crestfallen. Amazed. Stunned,” she wrote. Deadline also reported that the writer-director-author was ailing, and that she “wanted this to remain a private matter.”
And she did. In the end, fans were less concerned about the way she died and more concerned about the legacy of her work. The three-time Oscar nominee started out as a journalist before gradually making her way into the Hollywood film world in the late 1970s. She broke out onto the movie scene thanks to her script for “When Harry Met Sally…,” and she solidified herself as the queen of romantic comedies with 1993’s “Sleepless in Seattle,” which she wrote and directed. Ephron went on to direct “You’ve Got Mail” and “Bewitched,” with 2009’s “Julie & Julia” being her last film.
Ephron was a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and was recognized for her screenwriting as much as she was for her essays and journalistic work. The world lost a powerful voice when Ephron passed away, but the impact of her legacy will be felt for decades to come.