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E.T. Screenwriter Melissa Mathison Passed Away Last Week

Sadly last week Melissa Mathison, the screenwriter who helped to give us E.T. and such classic lines as "ET phone home," passed away at the age of 65 due to complications from cancer. Mathison's writing credits include The Black Stallion (1979), The Escape Artist (1982), Indian in the Cupboard (1995), and Kundun (1997). She recently collaborated with Spielberg on The BFG, now in postproduction due out in 2016. According to interviews, The Black Stallion was one of Spielberg’s favorites, and that prompted him to ask her to help him write a film that he’d been wanting to write for a while. That movie ended up being E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

Mathison told The New Yorker in a 2012 on the 30th anniversary of the film. "E.T. was entirely imaginative...Steven and I shared our imagination on this story; we both brought our own memories and strengths. In 1982 I was not yet a parent but was a stepmother, and had been a consummate babysitter and an older sister. The kids in E.T. can be directly linked to kids I knew. I even stole some of my little friends’ best lines: i.e. ‘penis breath.’ What adult woman could have thought of that?” (Source: The Hollywood Reporter).

Matheson ended up marrying Harrison Ford married in a Santa Monica Courthouse in 1983 and had two children with the actor: son Malcolm, a musician, born in 1987 and daughter Georgia, an actress, born in 1990. They along with Ford survive her.

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