Nora Ephron Dies at 71

Nora Ephron, the romcom genius behind the films Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail and Julie and Julia has died at the age of 71, it has been reported.

Nora Ephron began her career as a journalist, and was famously married to Carl Bernstein, made famous for his reporting on the Watergate scandal of the early 1970’s that rocked the Nixon administration. But Ephron was a big player in her own right, first making major waves with her account of her failed marriage to Bernstein in the novel Heartburn.

In it, Ephron wrote a thinly-veiled account of the union, describing a philandering spouse who was capable of having sex “with a venetian blind.” But the writer really hit it big with the seminal romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, and the Washington Post describes a talk Ephron gave in recent years about the film’s most memorable scene:

“’One day, we were sitting around and Rob [Reiner]said to me, ‘You know, we’ve told you all this stuff that you didn’t know about men, now you tell us something we don’t know about women,’ ” Ms. Ephron told an audience at a book reading in 2006. “It was almost like, ‘I dare you.’ And I said, ‘Well, women fake orgasms.’ And he said, ‘Not with me.’

“’And I said, ‘Yes, we do,’ ” she added. “Maybe not all the time, but sometimes. He still didn’t believe me. So we went thundering into the bullpen at Castle Rock Pictures where all the women work, and he asked them, ‘Is it true that women fake orgasms?’ And all these women nodded yes. What a shock that scene was for men.’”

Ephron’s death was first reported by the Washington Post, but reports were then retracted to say she was “gravely ill” with a form of blood cancer. But later in the evening, news of Ephron’s death began spreading again, and it was confirmed that the prolific writer had indeed died.