Hollywood has lost one of its most powerful, trailblazing women.
Laura Ziskin, the producer behind the blockbuster Spider-Man films, Julia Roberts' star-making turn in Pretty Woman plus As Good As It Gets, Fight Club, No Way Out and other classics, died in her L.A. home on Sunday evening, a rep for Sony Pictures confirmed.
Ziskin, 61, had been battling breast cancer 7 years. She is survived by her life partner, screenwriter Alvin Sargent, and Julia, her daughter with ex-husband, screenwriter Julian Barry.
First working as an assistant on the Barbra Streisand 1976 remake of A Star is Born, Ziskin's first producing credit was on the 1985 Sally Field comedy Murphy's Romance.
She went on to produce a broad slate of films — from Nicole Kidman's edgy role in To Die For Brad Pitt's controversial Fight Club, and Terence Malick's The Thin Red Line.
Nothing broke the "glass ceiling" for women in Hollywood as much as Ziskin's work on hugely successful Spider-Man series, which set the pace for comic-book inspired summer blockbusters.
Even in the advanced stages of her illness, Ziskin was said to be heavily involved with The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield in the lead role, a source told the L.A. Times.
Ziskin also helped produce the 2002 and 2007 Oscar telecasts. She also helped co-found (with Katie Couric) Stand Up to Cancer, a research initiative and annual Hollywood event.
"Movies are arguably the most influential, important medium in the world," Ziskin said in Mollie Gregory's 2002 book Women Who Run the Show. "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."
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