Saturday 25 February 2017

ET screenwriter Melissa Mathison loses cancer fight

Melissa Mathison and then husband Harrison Ford pictured arriving at a White House dinner in 1998 (AP)
Melissa Mathison and then husband Harrison Ford pictured arriving at a White House dinner in 1998 (AP)

Melissa Mathison, the ex-wife of actor Harrison Ford and screenwriter who crafted the enchanting worlds of iconic family films including ET The Extra Terrestrial, has died after a battle with neuroendocrine cancer.

The 65-year-old Los Angeles native had a humble, but high-profile start - her first credited work was in assistant roles on The Godfather: Part II and Apocalypse Now - before she broke out with her script for The Black Stallion.

Elliott carries ET on his bike and takes off
Elliott carries ET on his bike and takes off

She often collaborated with producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall and worked with directors including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Frank Oz.

Her last credited work is on Spielberg's adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG, which comes out next year.

Ms Mathison was married to Ford for 21 years before they divorced in 2004. They have two children.

ET director Steven Spielberg paid tribute to Melissa, "Melissa had a heart that shined with generosity and love and burned as bright as the heart she gave ET."

On a DVD special edition of the 1982 classic family film, Spielberg said of her contribution: “Melissa delivered this 107-page first draft to me and I read it in about an hour.

"I was just knocked out. It was a script I was willing to shoot the next day. It was so honest, and Melissa’s voice made a direct connection with my heart.”

Press Association

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