Ephron died of complications from myelodysplasia, a blood disorder she was diagnosed with six years ago, The Washington Post reports.
The beloved screenwriter, who brought to life award-winning films including "Silkwood," "When Harry Met Sally...," "Sleepless in Seattle," "You've Got Mail" and, most recently "Julie & Julia," belonged to America's top tier of filmmakers, but her talents extended far beyond Hollywood. Ephron was also an accomplished essayist, novelist and reporter, not to mention the Editor-at-Large of The Huffington Post.
Raised in Beverly Hills, Ephron graduated from Wellesley College before beginning her career as a journalist at the New York Post. She then went on to write about the 1970s women's movement for Esquire.
"Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady," Ephron told Wellesley's Class of 1996 in a commencement speech. "I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women."
Ephron had the wit and the guts to follow her own advice.
"She was the funniest feminist, or pseudofeminist, depending on whom you ask," Ariel Levy observed in a 2009 profile of Ephron published by The New Yorker.
In her work and in her life, Ephron refused to settle for predictability. "Every 10 years or so there was a moment when I'd say, even subconsciously, 'Is that all there is?'" she told Ladies' Home Journal in 2009. "You've got to find ways to keep it fresh for yourself. To do the thing, as they say, that is a stretch."
In 1976, Ephron married Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein (she was previously married to writer Dan Greenburg for nine years) on the heels of his induction into the journalism hall of fame. Bernstein and his fellow reporter Bob Woodward had chased down the Watergate scandal, which ended the presidency of President Richard Nixon.
"Carl and Nora were the Brad and Jen of the early eighties," Levy wrote.
Like many power couples, this one ended in divorce -- after four years.
Following her second divorce, Ephron wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay for "Silkwood," starring Kurt Russell and Meryl Streep. Ephron and Streep would collaborate again on 1986's "Heartburn" and 2009's "Julie & Julia."
"Directing movies is the best job there is, that's all," Ephron told the UK's Independent in 1993. "I can hardly say a word after that. It's just a great job. I just want to go on making movies, and some of them will be completely meaningless, except, of course, to me."
Ephron is perhaps best known for her 1989 film, "When Harry Met Sally...," which has become a cultural mainstay.
"'When Harry Met Sally...' is kind of a dark movie," director Nicolas Stoller told The Huffington Post in 2012. "It's sweet and it ends beautifully and romantic, but those are two pretty messed up characters. They're pretty flawed. They do pretty nasty things to each other. It goes to a dark, pretty real place between them. That's why it's a classic. [Screenwriter] Nora Ephron does not pull her punches in that movie."
Tom Hanks, who starred in not one, but two now-classic Ephron rom-coms -- "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993) and "You've Got Mail" (1998) -- said, "Working on a movie with Nora is kind of like going to a dinner party of hers. There's a lot of great conversation. There's a certain amount of screwing around but, by and large, you wind up talking about what Nora dictates you're going to wind up talking about."
In recent years, Ephron had grown increasingly aware of her mortality. In her latest book, "I Remember Nothing: And other Reflections" (2010) she writes: "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. 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."
Ephron is survived by her husband, screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi and her two sons, Jacob and Max Bernstein. A memorial has been planned for Thursday, June 28, in New York.
For more coverage on remembering Nora Ephron:
|@ RitaWilson : I hope you all have just one friend like #NoraEphron.I wrote this about our friendship.A snapshot of a beautiful woman. http://t.co/wJsB95Yx|
Nora Ephron was a fairy godmother to people she believed in. Nora Ephron was the girl every girl wanted as her best friend. Nora Ephron was wise, witty, and wonderful. They'll never, ever be anyone else like Nora Ephron. How lucky I was to know her. - Ilene Beckerman
"I am devastated. Nora was a close friend and will be missed terribly." - Rosie O'Donnell, who co-starred in "Sleepless in Seattle" and in Ephron's off-Broadway play, "Love, Loss and What I Wore"
My biggest flop was a play I wrote... It was the best thing I ever wrote, so it was a particularly heartbreaking experience. If I think about it for more than a minute, I start to cry. Some plays flop but go on to have a life in stock and amateur productions, but not this one. No one performs it anywhere, ever. You'd think I would have given up hoping that anything good would ever happen to this play, but I haven't: I sometimes fantasise that when I'm dying, someone who's in a position to revive it will come to my bedside to say goodbye, and I will say: "Could I ask a favour?" He will say yes. What else can he say? After all, I'm dying. And I will say: "Could you please do a revival of my play?"
"Nora Ephron was a journalist/ artist who knew what was important to know; how things really worked, what was worthwhile, who was fascinating and why. At a dinner table and on a film set she lifted us all with wisdom and wit mixed with love for us and love for life. Rita and I are so very sad to lose our friend who brought so much joy to all who were lucky enough to know her..." - Tom Hanks, who's slated to star in Ephron's upcoming Broadway play, "Lucky Guy"
Nora's legacy of wisdom and wit will be carried on through her many inspirational quotes featured films like "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle" as well as books like "Heartburn" and "I Feel Bad About My Neck."
HuffPost senior editor Sara Wilson thanks Ephron for her "guiding light." "Thank you, Nora Ephron, for telling the truth about divorce."
Nora's influence on Hollywood, after nearly three decades in the business, will be felt for many years to come.
|@ HuffPostMedia : Nora Ephron has died at 71. We look back on her journalism career: http://t.co/6jnaOPlB|
"I’d spent those sixteen years imagining what New York was going to be like. I thought it was going to be the most exciting, magical, fraught-with-possibility place that you could ever live in; a place where if you really wanted something, you might be able to get it; a place where I’d be surrounded by people I was dying to be with. And I turned out to be right."
Did you know Nora Ephron was once married to Carl Bernstein (of Woodward and Bernstein)? The marriage didn't last, but divorce remained a constant subject in her work. In fact, The Huffington Post's Divorce section was Ephron's brainchild, and she served as our guiding force and editor-at-large.
From "Silkwood" to "When Harry Met Sally" to "Julie & Julia", Nora Ephron's movies have long been a part of our collective consciousness.
It's clear that Nora Ephron had a thing for books. They are prominently featured in many of her films, including "You've Got Mail," which features two rival bookstores. Here are some of her best bookish movie moments.
|@ HuffPostComedy : RIP Nora Ephron... here are 10 things we should thank her for http://t.co/A5DuPTrE|
― Nora Ephron
Marriage (and divorce) was a hot topic for Ephron. "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle" were two of her films that really tackled issues related to tying the knot. Remember Ephron, who was married to fellow screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi for two decades, through her most poignant quotes on marriage.
Nora Ephron on divorce, Excerpted from I REMEMBER NOTHING: And Other Reflections: "The most important thing about me, for quite a long chunk of my life, was that I was divorced."
"I'll have what she's having." Take a walk down memory lane with some of Ephron's most memorable movie quotes.
Actress Marcia Gay Harden and writer Nora Ephron speak at the 55th Annual Writers Guild of America Awards at the Pierre Hotel March 8, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)
Cherry Jones and Nora Ephron join Diane Lane at a luncheon celebrating her New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her role in 'Unfaithful' at the Four Season's in New York City. January 14, 2003. Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect
Honorees James Schamus, Martin Scorsese, Nora Ephron and Executive Director of WGA East Mona Mangan pose together at the 55th Annual Writers Guild of America Awards at the Pierre Hotel March 8, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)
Writer/director Nora Ephron and writer Nicholas Pileggi arrive at the 101 Greatest Screenplays gala reception at the Writers Guild Theater on April 6, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, actor Chris Messina, director Nora Ephron, actresses Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and producer Laurence Mark arrive at the special screening of Columbia Pictures' 'Julie & Julia' held at Mann Village Theatre on July 28, 2009 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Director Nora Ephron, actresses Meryl Streep, and Amy Adams arrive at the special screening of Columbia Pictures' 'Julie & Julia' held at Mann Village Theatre on July 28, 2009 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
US actors Stanley Tucci, Meryl Streep, US director Nora Ephron and US actor Chris Messina pose during the photocall of the movie 'Julie and Julia' directed by US Nora Ephron on September 5, 2009 at the 35th American Film Festival, in Deauville, northwestern France. AFP PHOTO / MYCHELE DANIAU (Photo credit should read MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images)
Producer Amy Robinson, actor Stanley Tucci, actress Meryl Streep, actress Amy Adams, actor Chris Messina, and writer/director Nora Ephron attend the 'Julie & Julia' premiere after party at Metropolitan Club on July 30, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Actress Amy Adams and writer Nora Ephron attend the 'Julie & Julia' premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre on July 30, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Martha Stewart and writer Nora Ephron attend the 'Julie & Julia' premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre on July 30, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
US director Nora Ephron (L) arrives with US actors Stanley Tucci (2ndL), Meryl Streep and Chris Messina for the screening of her movie 'Julie and Julia' on September 5, 2009 at the 35th American Film Festival, in Deauville, northwestern France. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
US director Nora Ephron (L) arrives with US actors Meryl Streep and Chris Messina for the screening of her movie 'Julie and Julia' on September 5, 2009 at the 35th American Film Festival, in Deauville, northwestern France. AFP PHOTO / MYCHELE DANIAU (Photo credit should read MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images)
Playwright Nora Ephron, Rosie O�Donnell and Playwright Delia Ephron attend the after party for the Off Broadway opening night of 'Love, Loss and What I Wore' at Bryant Park Grill on October 1, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and writer/director Nora Ephron attend the Fortune Most Powerful Women summit at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 4, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.)
Actress Zoe Kazan and director Nora Ephron attend the Juror Welcome Lunch At The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival at Tribeca Lofts on April 21, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Nora Ephron and Arianna Huffington attend TechCrunch Disrupt New York May 2011 at Pier 94 on May 23, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/Getty Images for AOL)
Actress Meryl Streep (R) poses with award recipient Director Nora Ephron at the 2011 Directors Guild Of America Honors at the Directors Guild of America Theater on October 13, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Lesley Stahl (R) interviews Nora Ephron (L) on SiriusXM's "The wowOwow Radio Show" at SiriusXM Studio on April 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)