Laura Ziskin, Blockbuster Hollywood Producer, Dies at 61
so long and thanks for all the fish
Laura Ziskin, an influential Hollywood producer, died this weekend at 61 after a seven year battle with breast cancer. Although she was never a household name, Ziskin was a remarkably successful career, spanning three decades and a number of blockbuster films. She produced such films as Pretty Woman and As Good as It Gets, wrote the story for the Bill Murray classic What About Bob, and helped to develop the script for The English Patient. She was also the first woman to produce the Oscars telecast on her own (she did it twice: 2002 and 2007).
Ziskin’s most high-profile work, however, was her work on the Spiderman franchise. She oversaw all three of the films, and her most recent effort was on next year’s The Amazing Spiderman, a project she continued to work on even after her illness advanced significantly.
She was diagnosed with cancer in 2004; in 2008, she (alongside Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation) announced the launch of Stand Up to Cancer, an initiative intended to enable the cutting-edge research of all different types of cancer.
On the role of women in the film industry, she said this:
“Men have built the cities, made and defined the culture, interpreted the world. At no time in recorded history have women been culture-makers,” she said. “Movies are arguably the most influential, important medium in the world. They have a tremendous cultural impact. Because women are now making movies, then women’s ideas, philosophy, point of view will seep into that culture. And that’s never happened in history. Ever, ever, ever. We can’t even see the impact of that yet.”