Laura Ziskin, "Spider-Man" producer, dies at 61

Producer Laura Ziskin arrives at the 22nd Annual Producers Guild Awards on Jan. 22, 2011, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Laura Ziskin arrives at the 22nd Annual Producers Guild Awards on Jan. 22, 2011, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Getty

(CBS/AP) LOS ANGELES - Laura Ziskin, who produced the "Spider-Man" franchise along with among many other films throughout her 35-year Hollywood career, has died. She was 61.

Ziskin, who fought a seven-year battle against breast cancer, died on Sunday evening at her home in Santa Monica, according to a statement from the Entertainment Industry Foundation.

During her career, Ziskin was producer or executive producer of such crowd-pleasers as "No Way Out" with Kevin Costner (1987), "Pretty Woman" with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts (1990), and "As Good As It Gets" (1997) which won Academy Awards for Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt.

She also produced the three "Spider-Man" features and at the time of her death was working on a fourth, "The Amazing Spider-Man," which is set to be released next summer.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, Ziskin joined with other women in the entertainment industry and the media to form Stand Up to Cancer, a nonprofit organization that has raised some $200 million to fight the disease.

Ziskin was executive producer for two "Stand Up To Cancer" fund-raising specials that aired simultaneously on major TV networks in 2008 and 2010, featuring such stars as Denzel Washington, Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, George Clooney, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston and Stevie Wonder.

Pictures: Stand Up To Cancer 2010
CBS News' Dr. John LaPook remembers "Stand Up to Cancer" co-founder Laura Ziskin

She remained tireless in her support of cancer research, posting a feisty Web blog 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!'"

In the 1990s, Ziskin was president for five years of Fox 2000 Pictures, a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox that released more serious or quirky fare, including "Fight Club" and Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line," which was nominated for seven Academy Awards.

She also produced the Academy Awards telecasts in 2002 and 2007. She was the first woman to be solo producer of the show.

Born in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, Ziskin studied filmmaking at the University of Southern California, wrote for game shows after graduating in 1973 and got her start in features as personal assistant to producer Jon Peters.

Ziskin is survived by her husband, Alvin Sargent, screenwriter on the second and third "Spider-Man" films, and her daughter, Julia Barry.

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