Steven Spielberg directed the 1982 classic "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," but he couldn't have brought the iconic character to life without screenwriter Melissa Mathison. Mathison died Wednesday, November 4 after an illness, her brother Dirk Mathison confirmed to Variety. She was 65.
In addition to her Oscar-nominated screenplay for "E.T." -- for which she also received an associate producer credit -- Mathison wrote scripts for "The Black Stallion," "The Escape Artist," "The Indian In The Cupboard," Martin Scorsese's "Kundun," and the upcoming Spielberg movie "The BFG," which is in post-production.
Mathison was also married to actor Harrison Ford for more than 20 years, from 1983-2004, and they have two children together, Malcolm and Georgia.
Spielberg and "Kundun" producer Barbara De Fina both shared statements after Mathison's death.
"She was a lovely woman, and it's a great loss," De Fina told Deadline. "She was a wonderful writer. The project was about the Dalai Lama but at the core was about a boy separated from his home. I think of her as being a great parent. The choices that she made were so interesting and unusual, and it was all about family. When I think of what she's written, it always comes back to family and home."
Spielberg told Variety, "Melissa had a heart that shined with generosity and love and burned as bright as the heart she gave E.T." He had previously said, of her "E.T." script, "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."
And that connection is still strong for viewers more than 30 years later. Rest in peace, Melissa.
Want more stuff like this? Like us on Facebook.