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Melissa Mathison

Melissa Mathison

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Also Known As: Melissa Marie Mathison Died:
Born: June 3, 1950 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA Profession: screenwriter, director's assistant, bakery worker, stringer for Time

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The sporadic but brilliant career of screenwriter Melissa Mathison offers a vivid case study of an artist who succeeded in maximizing the benefits of each opportunity she was afforded. Though she had fewer than a half dozen films to her credit as of 1996, Mathison earned a permanent place in American pop culture as the writer of the reigning domestic box-office champ, "E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982). With its 1994 selection for inclusion in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, the film was officially certified a classic. Clearly this would have been an enviable credit for the most seasoned screenwriter; for a relative neophyte ("E.T." was Mathison's first sole screenwriting credit and her first original screenplay), it was something of a miracle.

The sporadic but brilliant career of screenwriter Melissa Mathison offers a vivid case study of an artist who succeeded in maximizing the benefits of each opportunity she was afforded. Though she had fewer than a half dozen films to her credit as of 1996, Mathison earned a permanent place in American pop culture as the writer of the reigning domestic box-office champ, "E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982). With its 1994 selection for inclusion in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, the film was officially certified a classic. Clearly this would have been an enviable credit for the most seasoned screenwriter; for a relative neophyte ("E.T." was Mathison's first sole screenwriting credit and her first original screenplay), it was something of a miracle.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

:
Grew up in Hollywood Hills, CA
:
Baby-sat for the children of family friend Francis Ford Coppola
:
Acquired a job as a TIME magazine stringer through a friend of her father's who was a bureau chief
1974:
Took a leave from UC, Berkeley to work as Coppola's assistant on "The Godfather, Part II" (date approximate)
1979:
Credited as "executive assistant" on Coppola's "Apocolypse Now"
1979:
Feature screenwriting debut, co-scripted (with Jeanne Rosenberg and William D. Wittliff) "The Black Stallion" at the urging of Coppola who also executive produced
:
Began dating actor Harrison Ford
1980:
Traveled with Ford on location for the shoot of Steven Spielberg's "Raiders of the Lost Ark"; Spielberg asked her to write a screenplay about a little alien stranded on Earth; wrote the first draft in eight weeks (date approximate)
1982:
Co-scripted (with Stephen Zito) the screenplay for "The Escape Artist", a poorly received Coppola production
1982:
Received first sole screenplay credit on Spielberg's landmark children's fantasy "E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial"; also credited as associate producer; first original screenplay; nominated for Oscar
1989:
Benefited from the Writers Guild of America's winning of an arbitration which entitled her to a 5 percent share of all revenue received by Universal--or its parent company, MCA--from the merchandising of the E.T. character; also entitled to 4 percent of the gross from merchandise in which E.T. is joined by other characters from the film
1991:
TV writing debut, "Son of the Morning Star", an ABC miniseries biopic about General George Custer
1995:
Returned to screenwriting after 13 years, scripted "The Indian in the Cupboard"
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Education

University of California at Berkeley: Berkeley , California -

Notes

Coppola's aides have confirmed the rumor that Mathison was the young woman to whom Eleanor Coppola refers to as her husband's extramarital interest in "Notes", her journal on the making of "Apocolypse Now".

"I'm very good at listening to kids," said the writer. "I talk like them anyway. I also baby-sat a lot and have lots of kid friends."

"It was important to me that the dialogue was true. In the back of my mind as I was writing the script I told myself that my audience was a 14-year-old boy. I figured if I didn't embarrass him I'd be safe and not make the kids sound like wimps."--Melissa Mathison interviewed by Stephen M. Silverman, THE NEW YORK TIMES, June 9, 1982.

Mathison is an avid collector of children's literature. She reads with her children for forty-five minutes every night.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Harrison Ford. Actor. Married on March 14, 1983 in Los Angeles; announced separation in November 2000; reportedly reconciled in March 2001.

Family close complete family listing

sister:
Melinda A Mathison. Born in 1947.
sister:
Stephanie J Mathison. Born in 1952.
brother:
Richard M Mathison. Born in 1955.
brother:
Matthew D Mathison. Born in 1959.
step-son:
Benjamin Ford. Chef. Born in September 1966; mother, Mary Ford.
step-son:
Willard C Ford. Teacher. Born in May 1969; mother, Mary Ford.
son:
Malcolm C Ford. Born on March 10, 1987.
daughter:
Georgia Ford. Born on June 30, 1990.
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