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OTRC: Nora Ephron 'was an era,' Meg Ryan says about late screenwriter

To Meg Ryan, Nora Ephron was "an era."

Ephron, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, director and author, died at age 71 on Tuesday in New York after battling leukemia, a form of blood cancer. She penned the scripts for three popular romantic comedies that made Ryan famous - "When Harry Met Sally...," released in 1989, the 1993 film "Sleepless In Seattle" and the 1998 flick "You've Got Mail."

"Nora was an era," Ryan said in a statement to OnTheRedCarpet.com. "We pictured ourselves inside her dreams and they became ours. All wisdom, wit and sparkle lights, what a treat she was, what a blessing. I marvel again and again, what a life ... To have created a simple happiness in people, to have added to the sum of delight in the world."

Ephron also directed "Sleepless In Seattle," in which Ryan plays a journalist who falls in love with Tom Hanks' character, a widow, after he confesses his loneliness on a radio show, and "You've Got Mail," in which the two portray business rivals who fall in love online.

"Nora Ephron was a journalist/ artist who knew what was important to know; how things really worked, what was worthwhile, who was fascinating and why," Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, who also starred in "Sleepless In Seattle," said in a joint statement to OnTheRedCarpet.com.

"At a dinner table and on a film set she lifted us all with wisdom and wit mixed with love for us and love for life," the couple added. "Rita and I are so very sad to lose our friend who brought so much joy to all who were lucky enough to know her." (Check out more celebrity tributes to Nora Ephron here)

Ephron also co-penned the script to another film starring Ryan - the 2000 comedy "Hanging Up" - with her sister, Delia. It starred Diane Keaton, who also served as director. It marked the last on-screen project she and Ryan worked on together.

But it was "When Harry Met Sally..." that made Ryan one of the most sought-after actresses. She had previously played small parts in films such as "Top Gun" and starred in shows such as "Charles In Charge." In "When Harry Met Sally...," she portrayed a journalist named Sally who becomes best friends with a wisecracking nice guy named Harry, played by Billy Crystal, who is in love with her.

The actor said in a statement to OnTheRedCarpet.com that Ephron "was a brilliant writer and humorist," adding: "Being her Harry to Meg's Sally will always have a special place in my heart. I was very lucky to get to say her words."

The film featured what is considered one of the most risque movie scenes of its time. Sally and Harry have a meal at popular New York eatery Katz's Delicatessen. The two discuss sex and in a bid to prove that Harry would be unable to tell if a woman is having a real orgasm, Sally fakes one - loudly - for several minutes in front of many diners. One of them, a woman, then tells a waiter: "I'll have what she's having."

The line was not in Ephron's original script. Crystal ad-libbed it to the woman, a movie extra. Ryan's orgasm scene was scripted - and it took about 20 takes, according to a 1990 Knight-Ridder Newspapers article.

The delicatessen where the scene was filmed also paid homage to Ephron after her death.

"RIP Nora Ephron," said a message posted on the eatery's official Twitter page on Wednesday. "You'll always be a part of us here at Katz's."

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