ET Screenwriter Melissa Mathison Dies

ET Screenwriter Melissa Mathison Dies

The writer of the immortal words "ET phone home" has died.

Melissa Mathison, one of Hollywood's best-known screenwriters, died at home on Wednesday at the age of 65.

She had been suffering from cancer.

The LA-born writer's first credited work was as an assistant on The Godfather: Part II, followed by Apocalypse Now.

But it was the 1979 script for The Black Stallion, an American classic novel about a child shipwrecked on a deserted island with a wild Arab stallion who he befriends, that brought her A-list accreditation.

She worked with the cream of the crop of producers and directors - including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Frank Oz - and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for ET.

In a statement, Spielberg said: "Melissa had a heart that shined with generosity and love and burned as bright as the heart she gave ET."

The last film she worked on was his adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG, which will be on screen next year.

In her personal life, Mathison was a devotee of the Dalai Lama whom she met when she wrote Kundun, a film about his life.

She continued to work as an activist for the cause of a free Tibet.

Mathison had two children from her 21-year marriage to Harrison Ford, Malcolm, a musician and Georgia, an actress.

They divorced in 2001 in what was then one of the most expensive marriage endings in history - it took three years to settle.

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