“Pretty Woman,” “Spider-Man” producer Laura Ziskin dies of breast cancer at 61

After a seven year struggle with breast cancer, film industry trailblazer Laura Ziskin died Sunday at her home in Santa Monica, CA. She was 61.

Ziskin was the producer of the “Spider-Man” series for Sony Pictures, the third installment of which became the top-grossing film in Sony’s history. She also produced the modern classic “Pretty Woman,” “Hero” starring Dustin Hoffman, the dark comedy “To Die For” that helped catapult actress Nicole Kidman to fame as well as the Oscar-nominated “As Good As it Gets.” Ziskin became the first woman to serve as sole executive producer for the Oscars in 2002 and returned to helm the telecast again in 2007.

In the midst of her fight against cancer, Ziskin founded the non profit organization Stand Up 2 Cancer in 2008.

In November 2009, talent manager Joan Hyler lauded Ziskin’s tireless work ethic on her blog, Hollywood Insider:

Thinking of Hollywood Matriarchs – I am impressed by many who semi retire like Sherry Lansing, after a full career as a producer and studio head – and use their money and power in philanthropic pursuits.  Laura Ziskin (still actively producing the “Spiderman” series) is using her power and money to fight cancer.  Both Jewish girls, these powerful women are worthy of our Torah female prototypes: they live in the world and use their accomplishments for the greater good.

Read more at Variety:

Ziskin fought a seven-year battle with breast cancer, yet remained one of the biz’s busiest producers and a champion of causes close to her heart, including Stand Up 2 Cancer, the non-profit org she helped launch in 2008. Earlier this year, she was honored by the Producers Guild of America with its Visionary Award.

On the big screen, Ziskin steered one of the most successful film franchises in B.O. history as the producer of Sony Pictures’ “Spider-Man” series. The first three pics in the series that began in 2002 broke B.O. records around the globe, with “Spider-Man 3” ranking as the highest-grossing pic in the history of Sony Pictures.

The fourth installment, a reboot with a new cast, wrapped production last month.