Melissa Mathison: 1950-2015

The Oscar-nominated screenwriter of E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial was 65.

by | November 5, 2015 | Comments


(Photo by Kevin Winter / Staff / Getty Images)


Oscar-nominated screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who penned the scripts for such classics as E.T. the Extra Terrestrial and The Black Stallion, died Wednesday in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer. She was 65.

Born in Los Angeles, to parents who were both writers, Mathison attended the University of California-Berkeley before leaving to work as Francis Ford Coppola’s assistant on The Godfather, Part II. After another stint as an assistant on Coppola’s Apocalypse Now — where she met future Husband Harrison Ford — she wrote the script for The Black Stallion (1979), a wide-eyed, deeply-felt family film that was produced by Coppola’s American Zoetrope studio. She would later write the script for Black Stallion cinematographer Caleb Deschanel’s The Escape Artist.)

However, it was Mathison’s script for E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) that would prove to be her defining work as a screenwriter; she had said she was frustrated with the kinds of films that were typically made for children. E.T. earned Mathison an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay; she and director Steven Spielberg would then collaborate on his segment of the 1983 omnibus film Twilight Zone: The Movie and the forthcoming fantasy adventure The BFG, which is slated for a 2016 release.

Mathison took time off in the mid-1980s to raise a family. She returned to the scene in 1997 with the script for Martin Scorsese’s Kundun, which was influenced by Mathison’s friendship with the Dalai Lama and her activism on behalf of Tibet. She is survived by two children from her marriage to Ford.

For Melissa Mathison’s complete filmography, click here.

Tag Cloud

Television Critics Association marvel cinematic universe The CW VH1 Superheroe spain Paramount Plus Toys kong Women's History Month movie Trivia batman black BBC One video Set visit Marvel Television PaleyFest canceled TV shows lord of the rings theme song Bravo Pacific Islander Action free movies Tumblr streaming movies Ellie Kemper name the review ViacomCBS sequels Amazon Studios films Star Wars YouTube Disney+ Disney Plus Spike crossover 20th Century Fox Certified Fresh PlayStation Comedy Election Mindy Kaling dceu Vudu best ID trailers Valentine's Day Pop TV FXX blockbuster dramedy OneApp indiana jones zombies archives spinoff Arrowverse Cannes romance Christmas festivals social media Watching Series spider-man Captain marvel all-time Starz Writers Guild of America rotten zombie Song of Ice and Fire football nature RT21 Tomatazos mockumentary Stephen King Awards Tour E! Interview Superheroes sports video on demand Creative Arts Emmys TV movies talk show HBO Go DirecTV television Awards Avengers SXSW TLC Comic Book godzilla new zealand IFC ABC Family WarnerMedia reviews strong female leads Box Office Freeform New York Comic Con jurassic park boxing die hard TCA Winter 2020 kaiju Thanksgiving X-Men disaster scary movies Paramount Network 2021 Schedule dogs Sci-Fi romantic comedy Food Network Holiday See It Skip It PBS Western CBS political drama finale mission: impossible renewed TV shows kids USA Showtime cancelled television politics Masterpiece Best and Worst Cosplay canceled ghosts diversity 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards MTV deadpool technology venice crime thriller Columbia Pictures 45 child's play Heroines Character Guide Amazon Prime Video Calendar A24 facebook Funimation 007 Music Exclusive Video Premiere Dates screenings tv talk heist movie festival GoT VICE 2015 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina The Walt Disney Company Sneak Peek Broadway Marvel Studios MCU Walt Disney Pictures Turner Classic Movies Amazon hist Rock Lifetime SundanceTV Tubi Fall TV mutant unscripted Film Martial Arts adenture Peacock Star Trek Oscars sag awards Holidays legend natural history criterion target Rom-Com docudrama live action 2016 Black Mirror Television Academy Adult Swim nfl sitcom ITV children's TV composers joker Sundance TV Image Comics FX on Hulu doctor who 71st Emmy Awards popular anime streaming rotten movies we love 21st Century Fox blaxploitation APB spanish Biopics medical drama Netflix Christmas movies Hallmark Apple TV Plus Quiz Netflix cars DGA 4/20 pirates of the caribbean Nickelodeon adventure book golden globe awards Family quibi saw Disney Plus scene in color women Tokyo Olympics FX GLAAD classics cancelled TV series vampires book adaptation period drama Travel Channel DC Universe international Infographic serial killer Britbox CMT Reality Competition Brie Larson Countdown Wes Anderson independent cinemax boxoffice documentaries TCA 2020 Polls and Games NBA Disney Channel Mystery RT History laika Academy Awards police drama Comics on TV discovery rom-coms concert comic books TCM Video Games HBO Fox Searchlight cancelled Teen Year in Review science fiction Sundance Apple TV+ stop motion true crime singing competition parents 2018 Logo animated American Society of Cinematographers new york CBS All Access docuseries golden globes Anna Paquin Acorn TV YA Shondaland OWN 90s TIFF worst movies MSNBC chucky comics Binge Guide Chernobyl australia Mary Tyler Moore french TV renewals italian supernatural Winners new star wars movies know your critic TruTV Red Carpet justice league HBO Max Elton John halloween tv sequel game show documentary historical drama BAFTA adaptation green book Opinion Baby Yoda Horror Epix movies psycho Pirates cancelled TV shows hispanic aliens harry potter rt archives Grammys travel TBS Musical Nat Geo President DC streaming service AMC Crackle halloween The Witch hollywood Pop Mudbound worst Ghostbusters Fox News dc IFC Films based on movie foreign richard e. Grant suspense jamie lee curtis stoner The Arrangement transformers Mary poppins latino Pet Sematary spy thriller BBC Summer twilight TV Land critics Drama news TV One what to watch zero dark thirty NBC Musicals Extras teaser high school Film Festival elevated horror Paramount 93rd Oscars obituary Trophy Talk miniseries Esquire History Rocky Super Bowl CW Seed Rocketman First Look Classic Film remakes universal monsters NYCC basketball christmas movies satire comedies TNT psychological thriller Winter TV Shudder BET Awards olympics Nominations Marvel superman Spring TV king kong The Purge Universal scorecard biography ESPN Comedy Central crime drama National Geographic Emmys revenge japanese werewolf game of thrones Hallmark Christmas movies comiccon japan Reality indie Animation Spectrum Originals Sundance Now comic award winner BET CNN reboot Alien fast and furious BBC America Mary Poppins Returns Apple 24 frames cooking Sony Pictures emmy awards LGBTQ Trailer asian-american directors LGBT GIFs Disney streaming service Kids & Family anthology SDCC Hear Us Out Photos Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt cats prank Country Disney monster movies breaking bad stand-up comedy 2017 Legendary ABC Signature aapi Turner thriller ratings The Walking Dead Emmy Nominations Lifetime Christmas movies dark 2019 cops TCA 2017 casting Endgame USA Network 99% cartoon toronto nbcuniversal superhero 1990s a nightmare on elm street Comic-Con@Home 2021 Lionsgate Cartoon Network Pixar Ovation Fantasy hidden camera versus Dark Horse Comics VOD james bond Tarantino razzies El Rey E3 screen actors guild toy story blockbusters spanish language fresh First Reviews The Academy dragons robots A&E slashers Hulu franchise war series TCA Awards Lucasfilm Podcast cults San Diego Comic-Con DC Comics Discovery Channel WGN Black History Month south america Syfy Pride Month Crunchyroll telelvision crime 72 Emmy Awards binge Amazon Prime witnail FOX YouTube Red ABC Warner Bros. TV YouTube Premium space Marathons