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  1. ITV Report

When Harry Met Sally screenwriter dies

Nora Ephron Photo: Reuters

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, she was 71.

Meg Ryan who starred in When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle and You've Got Mail Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

Ephron, who had suffered from acute myeloid leukaemia, died surrounded by her family, they said in a statement.

Reactions poured in from around the arts and entertainment community for the screenwriter who delighted millions with her flair for comedy, romance and the ability to tackle serious subjects with insight.

"She brought an awful lot of people a tremendous amount of joy. She will be sorely missed," her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, said in a statement.

Tom Hanks starred in Sleepless In Seattle and You've Got Mail Credit: PA

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called her death "a devastating one" for the city's arts and cultural community, and the Los Angeles-based Directors Guild of America called her "an inspiration for women filmmakers when there were few."

Writer and actress Carrie Fisher called Ephron "inspiring, intimidating, and insightful" and actor Martin Landau said she was "able to accomplish everything she set her mind to with great style."

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." She had kept her illness largely private except for close friends and family.

The elegant Ephron, known for habitually dressing in black, urged ageing friends and readers to make the most of their lives.Speaking to Reuters Ephron said:

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.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!'

Nora Ephron Credit: Reuters

She began her career as a journalist but made the move into film, leaving behind a legacy of more than a dozen movies, often featuring strong female characters, that she either wrote, produced or directed.

Helen O'Hara, deputy online editor at Empire, says she was unusual for a woman working in the film industry in that she managed to break into the mainstream:

Ephron was nominated for three Academy Awards for "Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle" and the drama "Silkwood" in which Meryl Streep played 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.