06/26/2012 10:19 EDT | Updated 08/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Director, screenwriter Nora Ephron dies at 71

Nora Ephron, the essayist, author and filmmaker who challenged and thrived in the male-dominated worlds of movies and journalism, and was loved, respected and feared for her wit, died on Tuesday of leukemia. She was 71.

Her book publisher Alfred A. Knopf confirmed her death in a statement.

Born into a family of screenwriters, Ephron was a top journalist in her 20s and 30s, then a bestselling author and successful director. She was among the most quotable and influential writers of her generation. She wrote and directed such favourites as Julie & Julia and Sleepless in Seattle.

Heartburn, starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, chronicled her own dissolving marriage with journalist Carl Bernstein and was based on her novel of the same name.

Ephron was married three times: to Dan Greenburg, Bernstein and Nicholas Pileggi, who survives her. She had two sons, Jacob and Max Bernstein.