Richard Matheson, ‘I Am Legend’ and ‘Twilight Zone’ Writer, Dead at 87
Richard Matheson, one of the most important creators in the history of genre fiction, passed away at the age of 87. Even those who haven’t read his novels or stories have felt his considerable influence and it’s safe to say that horror, science-fiction and fantasy wouldn’t be what they are today without his fingerprints.
His daughter released this statement on Facebook (via io9):
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…
Born in 1926, Matheson wrote dozens of novels and short stories as well as his fair share of screenplays. Although his most famous novel, ‘I Am Legend,’ was adapted for the big screen three times (as ‘The Last Man on Earth,’ ‘The Omega Man’ and ‘I Am Legend’), many of his other stories also found their way into theaters. His story ‘Button, Button’ became ‘The Box.’ His novel ‘A Stir of Echoes’ served as the basis for the 1999 film ‘Stir of Echoes.’ He would also adapt his own short story ‘Duel’ for television, making him one of the first people to write for the legendary director Steven Spielberg. He also adapted his own ‘The Shrinking Man’ for the movies as ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ and three of his stories were adapted for the horror anthology film ‘Trilogy of Terror.’
In addition to writing and adapting his own stories, Matheson wrote 14 episodes of ‘The Twilight Zone,’ including the iconic ‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet’ and ‘Steel’ (which was later adapted into ‘Real Steel’). He would also go on to write two TV movies that would inspire the series ‘Kolchak: The Night Stalker.’
Of course, all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. We still haven’t mentioned the Edgar Allen Poe films he wrote for Roger Corman, his run of Western novels in the 1990s, his many, many awards or the countless other short stories that have inspired so many other writers and creators. There have been few voices as strong, memorable or as important to modern pop culture as Richard Matheson. He will be missed, but his presence will linger on forever.