Melissa Mathison, Former Wife of Harrison Ford and 'E.T.' Screenwriter, Dies at 65

Pam WrightLife

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Melissa Mathison, the former wife of Harrison Ford and the screenwriter of Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, has died at the age of 65.

According to the Associated Press, Mathison was known for her family friendly films, which also includes The Black Stallion.

Mathison died Wednesday at her Los Angeles home after a bout with neuroendocrine cancer, confirmed her sister, Melinda Mathison Johnson.

"Mathison's stories were rich with symbolism, adventure, depth, and darkness. With their intricate plots and grown up themes of loneliness and loss, her films enchanted a generation of kids, and their parents," said Lindsey Bahr, for her AP article on Mathison.

E.T. has remains a classic film and continues to charm children of all ages.

"Melissa had a heart that shined with generosity and love and burned as bright as the heart she gave E.T.," Steven Spielberg said in a statement.

Mathison's first credited work was in assistant roles on The Godfather: Part IIApocalypse Now." Her break out project was 1979 classic, The Black Stallion, which was directed by Carol Ballard.

Mathison met Harrison Ford on the set of Apocalypse Now in 1976, and the couple married in 1983. They remained married until 2004 and had two children, Georgia and Malcolm.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Mathison often collaborated with producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall under their Amblin Entertainment banner and worked with directors like Frank Oz on The Indian in the Cupboard and Martin Scorsese.

Mathison left her lasting legacy with E.T., which became the highest grossing film of all time. According to the Associated Press, Spielberg and her then-boyfriend Harrison Ford reportedly convinced Mathison to write the screenplay on a 207 mile-drive through the Tunisian desert during the shoot for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Mathison was honored with her first and only Oscar nomination for E.T. but lost out to John Briley's Gandhi screenplay.

Melissa Mathison's last credited work is on Spielberg's big screen adaptation of Roald Dahl's novel The BFG, which comes out next year.

Pam Wright