Tuesday, June 25, 2013

RIP Richard Matheson

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 ([entitled The Last Man on Earth] Which starred Vincent Price in the lead role) as the inspiration for the zombie “ghouls” he created in Night of the Living Dead.

Continue reading: http://guardianlv.com/2013/06/richard-matheson-i-am-legend-creator-has-died-age-87/