Nora Ephron, writer of When Harry Met Sally, dies aged 71

Admirers and former collaborators including Billy Crystal and Steve Martin share their sadness at the loss of the screenwriter and director

Nora Ephron, one of Hollywood’s most successful female writers and directors, has died, aged 71 from complications arising from leukaemia.

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Ephron is best known for her work on romantic comedies including When Harry Met Sally, for which she penned the screenplay, and Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, which she both wrote and directed.

Her move to Hollywood followed a successful career as a novelist and journalist, writing humorous and satirical pieces for publications such as Esquire and New York magazine.

Last night, as news of her death broke, famous fans, many of whom had worked with her, expressed their sadness at the news and sahred their personal memories of Ephron.

Billy Crystal, who starred opposite Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally said: “I am very sad to learn of Nora’s passing. She was a brilliant writer and humourist. Being her Harry to Meg’s Sally will always have a special place in my heart. I was very lucky to get to say her words.”

Crystal’s co-star Carrie Fisher called Ephron “my ideal,” adding “In a world where we’re told that you can’t have it all, Nora consistently proved that adage wrong.

“A writer, director, wife, mother, chef, wit – there didn’t seem to be anything she couldn’t do. And not just do it, but excel at it, revolutionize it, set the bar for every other screenwriter, novelist, director.

“She was inspiring, intimidating, and insightful. She was so, so alive. It makes no sense to me that she isn’t anymore.”  

Twitter was also buzzing with tributes from ordinary fans and famous admirers alike.

Zooey Deschanel, star of hit comedy New Girl, tweeted “I’m very sad about Nora Ephron, a hero for all funny ladies,” while comedian Sarah Silverman said “I just heard about Nora Ephron. I’m so sad. A great & prolific writer, a warm & kind soul. Gone just like that.”

Steve Martin, who starred as a larger-than-life mobster in Ephron’s comedy My Blue Heaven, said: “She was the one you wanted to read, to listen to, to be in the company of. Nora Ephron. Incomparable wit; delightful friend. Sadness reigns.”

And screenwriter and film cirtic Sean Macaulay summed it up for many fans, tweeting “How many times did I say I’ll watch When Harry Met Sally for 5mins only to watch whole thing #ephronthesmartestgirlintheroom”

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Ephron was married to writer Dan Greenburg and journalist Carl Bernstein – known for breaking the Watergate scandal – with whom she had two sons, Jacob and Max. She leaves behind her third husband, Nicholas Pileggi.