Nora Ephron, Filmmaker, Author, Dies

Nora Ephron, the celebrated author and filmmaker behind such hits as Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally has died. She was 71.

The cause was pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukemia, her son Jacob Bernstein told The New York Times on Tuesday.

Update at 9:29 p.m. NPR’s Bob Mondello on All Things Considered

Here’s what our film critic Bob Mondello told NPR’s Melissa Block on tonight’s show:

“Romantic comedy was always a treacly form and she came into it. She’s a woman writing in a male-dominated industry and she wasn’t willing to put up with that. So her movies became a little more strong.”

We’ll have audio of that interview up as soon as it’s available.

Update at 8:46 p.m. NPR Confirms Ephron’s Death

Ephron’s death was confirmed to NPR by her friend Richard Cohen of The Washington Post who was at the hospital Tuesday when she died.

NPR’s Mandalit Del Barco is reporting on the death for our Newscast unit.

Here’s what she says:

“Nora Ephron was born in New York and raised in Beverly Hills, the daughter of screenwriters. She became a journalist at the New York Post, Esquire and The New York Times Magazine. Her second of three husbands was a reporter, too: Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame.

In Hollywood, Ephron wrote the hit romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally. That earned her a best original screenplay Oscar nomination. So did her film Silkwood, and Sleepless in Seattle, which she directed. She also reunited Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan for her movie You’ve Got Mail. Ephron wrote about relationships, aging and even butter. Her last film, Julie & Julia, was about chef Julia Child.”

Update at 8:38 p.m. Washington Post Confirms Death

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen confirmed Ephron’s death to the newspaper.

Here’s what the Post says about her in its appreciation:

“As a woman in the male-dominated movie business, Ms. Ephron was a rare ‘triple-hyphenate’ as writer, director and producer. But making movies for and about women was a battle, at times. She observed how, to male studio moguls, ‘a movie about a woman’s cure for cancer is less interesting than a movie about a man with a hangnail.'”

Ephron also spoke to NPR’s Talk of the Nation in 2006 following the release of I Feel Bad About My Neck, her book of essays.

And here’s the rest of our original post:

In an interview with NPR’s Renee Montagne in November 2010, Ephron was wistful about the implications of aging.

“You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can’t put things off thinking you’ll get to them someday,” she said. “If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. So I’m very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it.”

News of Ephron’s illness became public on Tuesday when her friend Liz Smith, the celebrity columnist, published what looked like a memorial for her on the website Women on the Web. She told The Associated Press Ephron’s son Jacob had told her the filmmaker was dying.

“I was confused because I was told to come to the funeral on Thursday,” Smith told the AP. “It’s bad enough.”

Ephron, one of the most influential women in Hollydwood, is also known for the book Crazy Salad and for the movie Julie & Julia.

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