Richard Matheson, one of the most iconic writers in America has died aged 87 according to his daughter who posted the information on Twitter. The I Am Legend creator has died after a long battle with an undisclosed illness.
Richard Burton Matheson was born on February 20, 1926 and died on June 24, 2013. He was an American author and screenwriter, who worked primarily in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres. He is perhaps best known as the author of The Shrinking Man, Hell House, What Dreams May Come, Bid Time Return (filmed as Somewhere in Time), A Stir of Echoes, and I Am Legend.
All of the above mentioned books have been adapted as major motion pictures, the last at least three times with Will Smith playing the doomed character in I Am Legend. Matheson also wrote several television episodes of The Twilight Zone for Rod Serling, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. He later adapted his 1971 short story Duel as a screenplay which was promptly directed by a young Steven Spielberg, for the TV movie of the same name.
Matheson was born in Allendale, New Jersey. He was the son of Norwegian immigrants Fanny (née Mathieson) and Bertolf Matheson, a tile floor installer. Matheson was raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943. He entered the military and spent World War II as an infantry soldier.
In 1949 he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and moved to California in 1951. He married Ruth Ann Woodson on July 1, 1952 and has four children, three of whom (Chris, Richard Christian, and Ali Matheson) are writers of fiction and screenplays.
Matheson wrote 14 episodes for the iconic American television series The Twilight Zone, including Steel and the famous Nightmare at 20,000 Feet which became the most legendary and iconic episode of the cult favourite series. He also wrote Little Girl Lost, a story about a young girl tumbling into the fourth dimension.
On all of Matheson’s scripts for The Twilight Zone, he also wrote the introductory and closing statements spoken by creator Rod Serling. He adapted the works of Edgar Allan Poe for Roger Corman, and Dennis Wheatley’s The Devil Rides Out for Hammer Films. He also contributed a number of scripts to the Warner Bros. western series Lawman between 1958 and 1962. He wrote the Star Trek episode The Enemy Within which is considered one of the best episodes of the television series.
In 1973, Matheson earned an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his teleplay for The Night Stalker, one of two TV movies written by Matheson that preceded the series Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Matheson also wrote the screenplay for Fanatic (The US title was, Die! Die! My Darling!), starring Tallulah Bankhead and Stefanie Powers.
The legendary horror novelist Stephen King has listed Matheson as a creative influence and his novel Cell is dedicated to Matheson. As well as Stephen King filmmaker George A. Romero has also frequently acknowledged Richard Matheson as an inspiration and listed the shambling vampire creatures that appear in the first film version of I Am Legend (Which starred Vincent Price in the lead role.) as the inspiration for the zombie “ghouls” he created in Night of the Living Dead.
Anne Rice stated that when she was a child, Matheson’s short story “A Dress Of White Silk” was an early influence on her interest in vampires and fantasy fiction.
Richard Matheson received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1984 and the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Horror Writers Association in 1991. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted him in 2010.
At the annual World Fantasy Conventions he won two judged, annual literary awards for specific works which included the World Fantasy Awards for Bid Time Return as the best novel of 1975 and Richard Matheson: Collected Stories as the best collection of 1989.
As a writer Richard Matheson can be seen as one of the most influential, if not the most influential person in the Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy genres. His work and creations which have scared, entertained, and enthralled readers for generations will continue to do so long after his death.
The news that Richard Matheson has died aged 87 by his daughter via Twitter has stunned the world. The 87 year-old author died after a long battle with an undisclosed illness. T
His daughter said it best on her Facebook wall when she wrote of his death. It said, “My beloved father passed away yesterday at home surrounded by the people and things he loved…he was funny, brilliant, loving, generous, kind, creative, and the most wonderful father ever…I miss you and love you forever Pop and I know you are now happy and healthy in a beautiful place full of love and joy you always knew was there…”
The I Am Legend writer was a fictional creator who had no peers and was a man who wrote legends of his own. R.I.P. Richard Matheson, a literary giant.
By Michael Smith