Beloved screenwriter Nora Ephron has died of leukemia at 71, just hours after a website prematurely released an obituary.
CBS News reported Tuesday evening that Ephron's oncologist, Dr. Gail Roboz, told the network that she died at Weill-Cornell/New York-Presbyterian at 7:40 p.m. EDT from acute myeloid leukemia.
The death was confirmed by a close friend, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who told the paper that she died of complications from myelodysplasia, a blood disorder with which she was diagnosed six years ago. It is unknown why there is a discrepancy over what exactly Nora Ephron suffered from, but they are similar conditions.
The 71-year-old screenwriter was best known for winning movie-goers' hearts by writing ultra-popular romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle and You've Got Mail.
Nora Ephron was one of the film industry's most powerful and moving screenwriters, and even beyond that there is almost no limit to the things she did and experienced in her life, from being nominated for three Academy Awards to working as a reporter for a time at the New York Post to being one of the few people to know the identity of Deep Throat (Mark Felt) before her ex-husband Carl Bernstein revealed that information publicly several years ago.
In recent years she continued to write despite her sickness, and several years ago she began writing an occasionally updated blog for the Huffington Post, where she is still listed as an Editor at Large.
She moved in the highest circles of New York City society, and she wrote with an authority and panache that made her one of the all-time highest-grossing screenwriters.
But on Tuesday, a single website prematurely reported that she had died, sparking concern that it was just another Internet death hoax. As it turned out, the errant report turned out to be just a couple hours early.
The premature obituary was published by women's website Wowowow.com, and it garnered heavy attention on Tuesday just a few hours before Nora Ephron's actual time of death. The article began with the heart-wrenching line I am sitting here with an open box of mail from and to Nora Ephron between the years of the early 60s and a month ago.
As of early Tuesday evening, she was confirmed to be doing at least OK, according to the Atlantic Wire, which spoke to Elizabeth Lindsay, a spokeswoman for Ephron's publisher Knopf:
It's pretty critical. She's not doing well, but she's certainly alive, Lindsay said at the time. The report she has passed away is not correct.
But TMZ reported mid-day Tuesday that a source said there is little hope she will recover from her current condition, while the New York Post reports that she is at death's door in a New York hospital.
Newsweek senior entertainment reporter Maria Elena Fernandez provided more information, tweeting Tuesday evening that Nora Ephron news is not a hoax but she has not passed away. She is not expected to make it through tonight. This is the truth.
Nora Ephron is survived by her third husband, author and screenwriter Nicholas Pillegi. The two had been married since 1989.