Melissa Mathison, a name that often remains in the shadows despite her notable contributions to the film industry, is best known as the former wife of legendary actor Harrison Ford. However, her own accomplishments as a screenwriter have left an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape. As we delve into the life of Melissa Mathison, we uncover a talented and visionary individual who helped shape some of the most beloved films of our time.

Early Life and Career Beginnings:

Born on June 3, 1950, in Los Angeles, California, Melissa Mathison grew up with a passion for storytelling. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she developed her skills as a writer and soon found herself drawn to the world of film. Her first break came when she was introduced to director Francis Ford Coppola, who recognized her potential and invited her to assist in the scriptwriting process for his film The Godfather Part II.

Breakthrough with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial:

However, it was Melissa Mathison’s collaboration with acclaimed director Steven Spielberg that catapulted her to prominence. In 1982, Mathison penned the script for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a heartwarming tale that captured the imagination of audiences worldwide. The film became a cultural phenomenon and remains an enduring classic. Mathison’s ability to create a compelling and heartfelt story resonated with viewers, and she earned critical acclaim for her work.

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Personal Life and Relationship with Harrison Ford:

During the production of Apocalypse Now in 1976, Melissa Mathison met Harrison Ford, who at the time was a rising star. The couple got married in 1983 and had two children together, Malcolm and Georgia. Their marriage lasted for 17 years before they separated in 2000, but they maintained a close friendship even after their divorce.

Later Career and Legacy: Following the success of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Melissa Mathison continued to work on numerous projects, showcasing her versatility as a screenwriter. She collaborated again with Spielberg on the film The BFG (2016) and worked on other notable movies like The Indian in the Cupboard (1995) and Kundun (1997), which she also co-produced.

Mathison’s work was characterized by her ability to create compelling narratives that combined imagination, emotion, and social relevance. She had a unique talent for crafting stories that resonated with both children and adults, earning her a reputation as one of the industry’s most accomplished screenwriters.


Tragically, Melissa Mathison passed away on November 4, 2015, at the age of 65 due to neuroendocrine cancer. Her untimely death left behind a void in the film industry, but her exceptional talent and contributions to cinema will forever be remembered and cherished.

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Melissa Mathison’s journey in the world of cinema is a testament to her talent and dedication. Despite her association with Harrison Ford, Mathison’s legacy extends far beyond her former marriage. Her ability to capture the hearts of audiences through her storytelling continues to inspire and entertain generations of moviegoers. As we celebrate her contributions to the film industry, it is essential to recognize Melissa Mathison as an accomplished writer and visionary who played an instrumental role in creating cinematic magic.