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 Jewish family of screenwriters, Ephron was a top journalist in her 20s and 30s, then a best-selling author and successful director. She 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 of Watergate fame.

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

During a long career, Ephron has written for newspapers and magazines. She published books and essays, but is perhaps best known for her work in movies.

She was nominated for three Academy Awards for writing the romantic comedies When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and drama Silkwood.