Hollywood writer Nora Ephron dies at 71

As a screenwriter, her most memorable lines may have been the series of gasps, moans and whimpers with which Meg Ryan regales Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally. Although the punchline "I’ll have what she’s having" also has its fans. Hollywood stars paid tribute to the writer and director Nora Ephron who died aged 71.

Ephron began in newspapers. Her second husband was Carl Bernstein, one of the reporters who broke the Watergate story, and she worked with him on the script for the Watergate film All The President’s Men. She later wrote the book and film Heartburn based on their failing marriage.

Ephron worked with Meryl Streep on several projects, including Heartburn, Silkwood and Julie & Julia. Streep said, "Nora just looked at every situation and cocked her head and thought, 'Hmmmm, how can I make this more fun?' "

She had her greatest mainstream successes with romcoms, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless In Seattle, but her writing was characterised by a sharp observation and razor wit that avoided Hollywood blandness. Billy Crystal said, "I am very sad to learn of Nora's passing. She was a brilliant writer and humorist. Being her Harry to Meg Ryan's Sally will always have a special place in my heart. I was very lucky to get to say her words."

Sleepless In Seattle star Tom Hanks said, "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."

Asked how she would like to be remembered, Ephron had replied with a typical wisecrack: "As the greatest nightclub singer ever."

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