Filmmakers and stars mourn the passing of the beloved producer

By Anthony Breznican
Updated June 17, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

By the time Laura Ziskin, 61, died June 12 from breast cancer, you couldn’t call her just a movie producer. Really, she was a fighter, and without her battles we might not have the current wave of superhero blockbusters, Julia Roberts’ smile, or that club where the first rule is you don’t talk about the club. Over 35 years, Ziskin’s credits included 1990’s Pretty Woman, 1991’s What About Bob?, 1997’s As Good as It Gets, and her biggest box office hits — Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. As a Fox 2000 studio executive in the ’90s, she successfully fought to make Fight Club. She also became the first woman to produce the Oscars solo in 2002, and did it again in 2007. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago, she cofounded the Stand Up to Cancer initiative to raise money for cancer research. ”Laura was a strong, powerful woman in Hollywood who was equally compassionate and kind,” Ellen DeGeneres tells EW. ”It was an absolute pleasure to work with her when I hosted the Academy Awards and again on her passion project, Stand Up to Cancer.” Ziskin is survived by screenwriter husband Alvin Sargent, daughter Julia Barry, and son-in-law Eli Dansky.