Richard Matheson, 1926-2013

Richard MathesonLegendary author Richard Matheson has sadly passed away at the age of 87.

From his longtime editor Greg Cox: “For over sixty years, Richard Matheson’s imagination enriched our lives and contributed vastly to the literature and entertainment of the twentieth century. In addition, he was a true gentlemen who was never less than a pleasure to work with. We’re all lucky to have known him and his work.”

“One of the most important writers of the twentieth century.” —Ray Bradbury 

“I think the author who influenced me the most as a writer was Richard Matheson. Books like I Am Legend were an inspiration to me.” —Stephen King

Richard Matheson, born February 20, 1926, was an American author and screenwriter. His vast career included critically acclaimed works across a variety of genres—best known for horror, fantasy, and science fiction, he also penned a number of striking westerns and literary fiction. His stellar works include I Am Legend, A Stir of Echoes, What Dreams May Come, Somewhere in Time, Hell House, The Shrinking Man, and many others. Matheson won countless awards, including the World Fantasy Convention’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Bram Stoker Award for Life Achievement, the Hugo, the Golden Spur, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and the Writer’s Guild Award.

Many of Matheson’s novels and short stories have been made into films and television shows. I Am Legend (2007), the blockbuster film starring Will Smith, was the third film version of Matheson’s bestselling science fiction novel, which was previously filmed as The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price in 1964 and again as The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston in 1971. Other Hollywood adaptations include Real Steel (2011), The Box (2009), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1956), What Dreams May Come (1998), and Stir of Echoes (1999). As a screenwriter, Matheson often adapted his own work to the screen as in the case of such films as Duel (1971), The Legend of Hell House (1973), and Somewhere in Time (1980).

Matheson’s many noteworthy television scripts include “Button, Button,” which inspired a memorable episode of the Twilight Zone television series, which had previously aired many other unforgettable episodes by Matheson, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” “The Invaders,” and “Little Girl Lost.” He also wrote episodes for such series as Star Trek, Night Gallery, and Have Gun, Will Travel.

Matheson was recently thrilled to see the staging of a musical adaptation of Somewhere in Time, based on his book and screenplay, which had its world premiere at Portland Center Stage in May 2013.

Departing from the genre, Matheson also penned The Beardless Warriors, an autobiographical novel about teenager American soldiers in World War II, and later wrote such acclaimed western novels as Journal of the Gun Years, The Memoirs of Wild Bill Hickok, and Shadow on the Sun.

A New York Times bestselling author and great American writer, Matheson will continue to capture the imagination of millions. He resided in California with his wife and had four children, including the writer Richard Christian Matheson.