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Nora Ephron in 2008.
Nora Ephron, prolific writer and director, died yesterday at the age of 71 from complications of leukemia. She directed "Julie and Julia," "Sleepless in Seattle," and "You've Got Mail," among others, and wrote hits like "When Harry Met Sally," "Heartburn" and "Silkwood."
Ephron started her career as a journalist and essayist, her first big scoop being Bob Dylan's secret marriage in 1966.
She later moved into directing, explaining why in a 2009 interview with The Guardian: "You know who was going to direct that movie? There were very few women directing movies. Most men don't want to direct movies that aren't about them. Well that's just true. Most directors don't want to direct movies that aren't about them ... so it was almost as if I became a director so I would have a director."
Ephron came from a family of writer, both of her parents were well-known screenwriters. Last year, Ephron described how her mother helped her develop as a writer. "If you went to my mother and you said, 'Oh, the worst thing happened to me today.' She only wanted to hear about it when you had turned it into a story with a good punchline. She always said, 'Everything is copy. Everything is material.'"
Ephron's many friends and colleagues were shocked and saddened by what seemed like a sudden death:
Rob Reiner (Director of "When Harry Met Sally"), during today's interview with Madeleine:
"She was a joy, not only was she funny and brilliant and smart, she was a great cook. A meal never went by when you didn't have a great time and having great food. You looked forward to a Nora Ephron dinner party. Not only would you get the greatest food, you would get the greatest conversation. What I remember most about her is that she just embraced life. She squeezed every ounce of joy out of life. "
Statement from Billy Crystal (Harry in "When Harry Met Sally"):
"I am very sad to learn of Nora's passing. She was a brilliant writer and humorist. 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."
Statement from Meryl Streep (Julia Child in "Julie & Julia"):
"Nora was a person whose gifts of mind, amply displayed as a young person in her sharply observed journalistic pieces and in her personal wit, were, when I first met her, kind of scary: aimed and airy at the same time, an insouciant sharpness that could be intimidating, because you could never catch her 'trying', everything seemed effortless. But as I got to know her, I understood what drove her was her acute curiosity, and her desire to observe and find out stuff. It's what made her great as a journalist, and as a director, too.. She thought fast, loved new ideas, processed swiftly, decided what was valuable and what was not with clarity. It's hard to credit how very smart she was, cause she was always deflectively feminine and funny, the sharpness of mind softened and smoothed by genuine charm."
Statement from Meg Ryan:
"Nora was an era. We pictured ourselves inside her dreams and they became ours. All wisdom, wit and sparkle lights, what a treat she was, what a blessing. I marvel again and again ... what a life ... to have created a simple happiness in people, to have added to the sum of delight in the world."
Rob Reiner, director of "When Harry Met Sally."