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NEW YORK: 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.

Ephron’s son, Jacob Bernstein, confirmed her death. Her book publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, also confirmed it in a statement.

Born into a family of screenwriters, she was a top journalist in her 20s and 30s, then a best-selling author and successful director. Ephron was among the most quotable and influential writers of her generation.

She wrote and directed such favorites as Julie & Julia and Sleepless in Seattle, and her books included the novel Heartburn, a brutal roman a clef about her marriage to Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein; and the popular essay collections I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing.

She was tough on others — Bernstein’s marital transgressions were immortalized by the horndog spouse in Heartburn, a man “capable of having sex with a Venetian blind” — and relentless about herself. She wrote openly about her difficult childhood, her failed relationships, her doubts about her physical appearance and the hated intrusion of age.

“We all look good for our age. Except for our necks,” she wrote in the title piece from I Feel Bad About My Neck, published in 2006. “Oh, the necks. There are chicken necks. There are turkey gobbler necks. There are elephant necks. There are necks with wattles and necks with creases that are on the verge of becoming wattles. … According to my dermatologist, the neck starts to go at 43 and that’s that.”

Even within the smart-talking axis of New York-Washington-Los Angeles, no one bettered Ephron, slender and dark-haired and armed with a killer smile. Friends from Mike Nichols and Meryl Streep to Calvin Trillin and Pete Hamill adored her for her wisdom, her loyalty and turns of phrase.

As a screenwriter, Ephron was nominated three times for Academy Awards, for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, and was the rare woman to write, direct and produce Hollywood movies. Meg Ryan was among the many actresses who said they loved working with Ephron.