Author Richard Matheson has passed away at the age of 87 at his home in Calabasas, California his family announced in a private Facebook post Monday.
Matheson’s novels include iconic works like I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man, What Dreams May Come, Hell House and A Stir of Echoes while his short story output has been adapted as everything from episodes of “The Twilight Zone” to the recent big screen sci-fi tale Real Steel. Among his countless contributions to genre storytelling, Matheson penned the original “Star Trek” episode “The Enemy Within” and supplied the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s early telefilm Duel.
Matheson, who was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010, inspired many of the major names in science fiction, fantasy and horror writing. The 1995 reprint of “I Am Legend” featured praise from Ray Bradbury, “Psycho” author Robert Bloch, and Stephen King, who called Matheson “the author who influenced me the most as a writer.” King’s 2006 novel, “Cell,” is dedicated to Matheson.
“We’ve lost one of the giants of the fantasy and horror genres. From The Beardless Warriors, his brilliant (and largely unread) World War II novel, to The Incredible Shrinking Man and all the wonderful Twilight Zone scripts and stories, Matheson fired the imaginations of three generations of writers. Without his I Am Legend, there would have been no Night of The Living Dead; without Night of The Living Dead, there would have been no Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, or World War Z.
Matheson wrote the script for Steven Spielberg’s extraordinary film, Duel, and created one of the most brain-freezingly frightening haunted
house novels of the 20th century in Hell House. He fired my imagination by placing his horrors not in European castles and Lovecraftian universes, but in American scenes I knew and could relate to. “I want to do that,” I thought. “I must do that.” Matheson showed the way. In addition to that, he was a gentleman who was always willing to give a young writer
a hand up. I will miss his kindness and erudition. He lived a full life, raised a fine family, and gave us unforgettable stories, novels, TV shows, and movies. That’s good. Nevertheless,
I mourn his loss. A uniquely American voice has been silenced.”