Melissa Marie Mathison
June 3, 1950
|Died||November 4, 2015 (aged 65)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
(m. 1983; div. 2004)
Melissa Marie Mathison (June 3, 1950 – November 4, 2015) was an American film and television screenwriter and an activist for the Tibetan independence movement. She was best known for writing the screenplays for the films The Black Stallion (1979) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), the latter of which earned her the Saturn Award for Best Writing and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Mathison later wrote The Indian in the Cupboard (1995), based on Lynne Reid Banks' 1980 children's novel of the same name, and Kundun (1997), a biographical-drama film about the Dalai Lama. Her final film credit was The BFG (2016), which marked her third collaboration with film director Steven Spielberg.
Mathison was born on June 3, 1950, in Los Angeles, one of five siblings. Her father, Richard Randolph Mathison, was the Los Angeles bureau chief of Newsweek. Her mother was Margaret Jean (née Kieffer) Mathison, a food writer and convenience-foods entrepreneur. After graduating from Providence High School in 1968, Mathison attended the University of California, Berkeley. Her family was friendly with Francis Ford Coppola, whose children were babysat by Mathison. Coppola offered her a job as his assistant on The Godfather Part II (1974), an opportunity for which she left her studies at UC Berkeley.
Screenwriting and production credits
Mathison wrote the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) in collaboration with Steven Spielberg. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The script was based on a story, written by John Sayles, that Spielberg provided to Mathison during the filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Spielberg attributes the line "E.T. phone home" to Mathison. She collaborated again with Spielberg for The BFG (2016), her final film, which was dedicated in her memory. She also had film credits for The Escape Artist (1982) and The Indian in the Cupboard (1995).
Mathison met the Dalai Lama in 1990 when she was writing the script for Kundun (1997) and developed a lasting friendship with him. She continued to work as an activist for Tibetan freedom and was on the board of the International Campaign for Tibet.
Personal life and death
|1979||The Black Stallion||Family-adventure|
|1982||E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial||Fantasy-adventure-science fiction||Saturn Award for Best Writing|
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, (1983)
The line "E.T. phone home." is ranked 15th among the top 100 quotations of U.S. cinema by the American Film Institute.
|The Escape Artist||Drama|
|1983||Twilight Zone: The Movie||Science fiction-thriller||Segment 2, "Kick the Can"; credited as "Josh Rogan"|
|1991||Son of the Morning Star||Western||Television film|
|1995||The Indian in the Cupboard||Family-adventure|
|1998||The Emperor's New Clothes: An All-Star Illustrated Retelling of the Classic Fairy Tale||Animated, Family|
|2008||Ponyo||Animated, family-adventure||Storyline consultant, English-language translation|
|2016||The BFG||Family-fantasy-adventure||Posthumous release|
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Writing
- "Melissa Mathison". Movies.yahoo.com. April 20, 2011. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
- Chawkins, Steve (November 4, 2015). "Melissa Mathison dies at 65; screenwriter of 'E.T.,' 'Black Stallion,' 'Kundun'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 8, 2015.]
- "Melissa Mathison: a masterful storyteller who brought ET to life", The Guardian, November 5, 2015.
- Saperstein, Pat. "Melissa Mathison, 'E.T.' Screenwriter and Ex-Wife of Harrison Ford, Dies at 65". Variety. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- Weber, Bruce (November 6, 2015). "Melissa Mathison, 65, Dies; Wrote Screenplay for 'E.T.'". New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- Melissa Mathison, A Conversation with the Dalai Lama, Rolling Stone, July 21, 2011