Laura Ziskin, a standard-bearer among women film producers and an advocate for health and environmental issues, died this Sunday of complications related to breast cancer at her home in Santa Monica, California. She was 61.
Laura rose to become one of Hollywood’s leading independent producers and studio executives. She is best known for producing the blockbuster Spider-Man film trilogy which broke box office records worldwide and became the highest grossing film franchise in Sony Picture Entertainment’s history. She also produced Pretty Woman and was the first woman to solo produce the Academy Awards telecast.She will also be remembered as a fierce advocate for cancer research and treatment. After being diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in 2004, Ziskin fought the disease with her personal strength and with the gratefully acknowledged support of her family and friends. In 2008 she helped launch the not-for-profit Stand Up 2 Cancer which has raised hundreds of millions in donations to help cancer victims.
Ziskin was defiant and good humoured to the last, posting this blog entry earlier this month to mark National Cancer Survivors Day.
"Cancer sucks, and each and every day I have moments of telling it where to go. And today, on National Cancer Survivors Day, I can shout it from the rooftops!" Ziskin wrote. "While somewhat more crass assertions also readily come to mind, what I really want to say is: `Cancer, you can't survive ME!'"
Ziskin's survivors include her husband, screenwriter Alvin Sargent, with whom she frequently collaborated; daughter, producer Julia Barry, and son-in-law, writer Eli Dansky.
A memorial is being planned. The family requests that donations be made to Stand Up 2 Cancer through the org's website, www.standup2cancer.org.