LOS ANGELES • Melissa Mathison, the former wife of actor Harrison Ford and the writer of the screenplay for the enchanting 1982 family movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, died on Wednesday, the American media said. She was 65.
She died of neuroendocrine cancer at a Los Angeles area hospital, the Los Angeles Times said, citing her brother Dirk Mathison.
Her screenplay for director Steven Spielberg's E.T., about the friendship of a boy and a marooned alien he finds in a toolshed, was nominated for an Oscar. The film made US$793 million worldwide, the Los Angeles Times said.
"Melissa had a heart that shone with generosity and love and burned as bright as the heart she gave E.T.," Spielberg said in a statement.
Mathison's other credits include The Black Stallion (1979), The Escape Artist (1982) and The Indian In The Cupboard (1995), all starring young actors.
She also wrote screenplays for Kundun (1997), about the Dalai Lama's youth, and for The BFG, a family film adapted from Roald Dahl's book, directed by Spielberg and due out in the middle of next year.
Mathison married Ford in 1983 and the couple have two children, Malcolm and Georgia. They divorced in 2004.