Veteran screenwriter Melissa Mathison has died of neuroendocrine cancer at the age of 65. Mathison was most famous for writing E.T., though in the course of her three-decade career she also penned The Escape Artist, Indian in the Cupboard, and Kundun. Her most recent script was a reunion with Steven Spielberg on the upcoming Roald Dahl adaptation The BFG. Unlike many writers, Mathison was a frequent presence on the E.T. set, and worked closely with the film's young cast. "In 1982 I was not yet a parent, but was a stepmother, and had been a consummate babysitter and an older sister," she told The New Yorker in 2012. "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?"
Mathison got her start in Hollywood thanks to a connection with Francis Ford Coppola, whose family she had babysat for as a preteen; years later, the director hired her as an assistant on The Godfather Part II and Apocalypse Now. It was on the set of the latter film that Mathison met her future husband, Harrison Ford. The couple was married from 1983 to 2004, and had two children.
E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison dies at 65
April 1983: American actor Harrison Ford and wife, screenwriter, Melissa Mathison, arrive at the 35th Annual Writers Guild Awards at the Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 7: Actor Harrison Ford and wife Melissa Mathison attend the 35th Annual Writers Guild of America Awards on April 7, 1983 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - CIRCA 1990: Harrison Ford and wife Melissa Mathison circa 1990 in New York City. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/IMAGES/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - JUNE 24: Actor Harrison Ford and wife Melissa Mathison attend the 'Regarding Henry' New York City Premiere on June 24, 1991 at Loews Tower East in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 1: US actor Harrison Ford (L) and wife Melissa Mathison Ford (R) pose with His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, during a star-studded dinner in his honor 01 August in Beverly Hills, California. The event, during the Dalai Lama's week-long visit to the United States, raised money to help preserve the traditions of the Tibetan people. (Photo credit should read Vassi KOUTSAFTIS/AFP/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 15: Melissa Mathison (Mrs. Harrison Ford) attends the 'Kundun' Westwood Premiere on December 15, 1997 at the Avco Center Cinemas in Westwood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Harrison Ford and Melissa Mathison (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Harrison Ford & Melissa Mathison during GQ Party 2000 at Sunset Room in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Melissa Mathison during 20th Anniversary Premiere of Steven Spielberg's 'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial' - Red Carpet at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Melissa Mathison (Photo by Amy Graves/WireImage for Mann Productions)
HOLLYWOOD - JULY 27: Hayao Miyazaki and Melissa Mathison during the special screening of Walt Disney Pictures' 'Ponyo' after party at the Roosevelt Hotel, on July 27, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - JULY 27: Writer Melissa Mathison attends an industry screening of Walt Disney Pictures' 'Ponyo' at the El Capitan Theatre on July 27, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)