Melissa Mathison, who wrote the screenplay for the beloved Steven Spielberg film “E.T. the Extra-terrestrial,” died Tuesday at her home in Los Angeles, Variety is reporting. She was 65.
The 1982 film told the tale of a young boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas) who, with his sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore), befriend a kindly creature from another world trapped on Earth. The children nicknamed the alien “E.T.” due to the difficulty of pronouncing “extraterrestrial.”
The film played in theaters continuously for months, picking up four Oscars along the way and earning Ms. Mathison a writing nomination as well. “E.T.” became the biggest hit of all time until Mr. Spielberg broke his own record in 1993 with “Jurassic Park.”
The blockbuster also gave a boost to Reese’s Pieces, E.T.’s favorite candy in the story.
Ms. Mathison was married to actor Harrison Ford from 1983 to 2004. The couple had two children, Malcolm and Georgia. The exact figure of their divorce settlement varies by source, with some estimates landing Ms. Mathison $90 million of Mr. Ford’s fortune in the end.
Ms. Mathison worked sporadically after “E.T.,” penning scripts for “The Indian in the Cupboard” in 1994 and Martin Scorsese’s “Kundun” in 1997, the latter of which told the tale of the current Dalai Lama from childhood to young adulthood.
Her final project as screenwriter was another collaboration with Mr. Spielberg, the forthcoming “The BFG,” an adaptation of a Roald Dahl book about a young girl who befriends a “big friendly giant” and set for release in 2016.
“Melissa had a heart that shined with generosity and love and burned as bright as the heart she gave E.T.,” Mr. Spielberg said in a statement, according to Variety.