Laura Ziskin 1950-2011

At 64, I sometimes think, “Geri, you’re in the last quarter of your life.” While this isn’t the most uplifting thought of my day, I realize it’s a completely meaningless and self-centered notion when I read about a woman dying at 61, seven years after being diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer. Such is the case with Laura Ziskin, a successful Hollywood producer, whose credits include Pretty Woman, Spider-Man and What About Bob?

Laura Ziskin

A self-made woman in a cut-throat industry, Laura leaves behind a daughter, husband, two brothers, a sister and her mother.

It is always chilling to think about how our lives can change in an instant, as it undoubtedly did for Laura when she got the ghastly news at 54.  Here I am, at 64, and I haven’t been diagnosed with anything life threatening. How lucky am I ?

My heart goes out to Laura’s family. Many of her movies gave us a great deal of joy and laughter. Executive producer of Pretty Woman when she was only 40, she had this to say: “I didn’t want a movie whose message would be that some nice guy will come along and give you nice clothes and lots of money and make you happy.” That’s why she demanded an ending to the movie in which Vivian and Edward completely change each other, according to her obit in today’s New York Times.

I hope Laura found joy and laughter during her last years and that she also found comfort in thinking about the legacies she was leaving behind.

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One Response to “Laura Ziskin 1950-2011”

  1. Toby Wollin says:

    You know, Geri, in our little burg, reading the obits is almost a daily ritual, and I’ve noticed over the past couple of years one stark thing: The number of people (especially women) dying much earlier than the ‘three score and ten’ is growing. I don’t know why but for the generation of people who had antibiotics, vaccinations for polio, and more health information than we can possibly digest, we seem to be sicker than we ever were. I don’t know why Laura Ziskin was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer at the age of 54 – perhaps it was one of those family/genetic mutation things. But at the end, this was a very clever, creative woman who actually did something wonderful with her life, and she died much too early. I feel for her family and if she had any daughters, I know that they are staring down that same gun barrel as their mom did and for that, I feel very bad for them.


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