Nora Ephron Dies at 71

Nora Ephron Dies at 71

It's become one of the most famous loves scenes in the movies when Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, two total strangers, make a magical connection at the top of the Empire State Building in Sleepless in Seattle.

But when moviemaker Nora Ephron shot that never-to-be-forgotten scene, she could never have dreamed she would inspire a whole generation of ordinary people to head to the Empire State's observation deck, and recreate the magic in their real lives.

There are a number of YouTube videos in which, like Sleepless in Seattle, love blossoms on the observation deck.

Tragically, Ephron died of leukemia Tuesday at age 71, and now the people who knew her best are in mourning.

Barbara Walters struggled with her emotions when she spoke of the loss of her friend on The View

"All of us will miss her more than words can say. Forgive me, I'm not as clear about this as I should be," said Walters. 

Kelly Ripa also knew Ephron and said, "I had the opportunity of meeting her several times and she was one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life."

The star of When Harry Met Sally, Billy Crystal, said, "She was a brilliant writer and humorist. Being her Harry to Meg's Sally will always have a special place in my heart."

Tom Hanks joined wife Rita Wilson to say, "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."

Ephron kept her illness secret from everyone but her family and closest friends.

Author and journalist Sally Quinn was one of a handful of people who knew.

Quinn said, "She didn't like to be a whiner or complainer, and she didn't want people to feel sorry for her. She wanted to be with her family."