Screenwriter and Director Nora Ephron Dies of Leukemia at Age 71

Screenwriter and Director Nora Ephron Dies of Leukemia at Age 71
Tracy E. Gilchrist

Screenwriter and director Nora Ephron, famous for penning When Harry Met Sally, Silkwood, Sleepless in Seattle and Julie and Julia, died of leukemia at age 71, Tuesday in New York, according to the Washington Post.

A three-time Academy Award nominee Ephron rose to the top in male-dominated Hollywood as one of a handful of women who wrote, directed and produced. She also created strong, funny female characters that have been played by the likes of Meg Ryan, Meryl Streep and Cher.

The 1983 Streep and Jack Nicholson starrer Heartburn, for which Ephron wrote the screenplay, was based on her novel about her marriage to former Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein.

Ephron also co-wrote the screenplay for Mike Nichols critically acclaimed 1983 whistle blower drama Silkwood, which starred Streep, Cher and Kurt Russell, in which Cher earned an Oscar nomination for her turn as Dolly Pelliker, one of the first big-screen lesbian characters to be portrayed as a fully rounded person.

In an interview with the Advocate in 2009 Ephron discussed the character saying, “…I really do think was a breakthrough. I don't mean that she was the first gay character in a mainstream movie, but this was no joking, winking, interior decorator gay person; it was a person.”

Julie and Julia, which Ephron wrote and directed, was her last film. She also directed Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail to name a few.

Ephron was diagnosed with the blood disorder myelodysplasia six years ago, according to the Washington Post.

She is survived by her husband, Goodfellas screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, reports People. 

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