Nora Ephron, the pioneering author, screenwriter and filmmaker behind several blockbuster romantic comedies, including "Sleepless in Seattle" and "When Harry Met Sally," died on Thursday after a long, largely private battle with leukemia. She was 71.
News of her death—first reported by her friend and columnist Liz Smith in a prematurely posted eulogy on the website wowOwow.com—came as a shock to many, even the few who knew she had cancer.
"Nora Ephron is gone—and I can't believe it," Arianna Huffington, a close friend who hired Ephron to write for the Huffington Post, wrote. "It was impossible news to take in. Whenever I was around her through the years the air crackled with energy and ideas and one-liners—and a sense of celebration."
[Slideshow: Nora Ephron through the years]
Other high profile friends shared their shock and sorrow, often by email or on Twitter.
"Nora just looked at every situation and cocked her head and thought, 'Hmmmm, how can I make this more fun?'" Meryl Streep, who starred in two of Ephron's films, wrote in an email to the New York Times.
"The wit the warmth the wisdom of Nora Ephron," Newsweek editor Tina Brown tweeted. "God how I will miss her."
"She had this thing about not wanting to whine," Sally Quinn told the Times. "She didn't like self-pity. It was always, you know, 'Suck it up.'"
"Nora Ephron knew more about what was happening than possibly anyone else," Michael Wolff, the writer and Newser.com founder, wrote on Twitter. "Always astounding."
"I won't say, 'Rest in peace, Nora,'" Smith wrote. "I will just ask 'What the hell will we do without you?'" (Smith's post was taken down, but not before causing speculation on Twitter, since no confirmed reports stated that Ephron had died.)
"Her legacy will be that of an exceptionally gifted and versatile artist who could do it all, and do it all incredibly well," Huffington added. "Personally, she'll be cherished as a wife and mother, and a devoted, giving, treasured—and irreplaceable—friend. I know I have to accept that she's gone—but I still can't believe it."