Renowned 'Smart Sci-Fi' Writer Richard Matheson Passes Away
Richard Burton Matheson; February 20, 1926 - June 23, 2013
Richard Matheson, the man behind such noted titles as I Am Legend and countless The Twilight Zone episodes, passed away on Sunday (June 23), aged 87. A writer for film, television and in the traditional sense as a novellist, Matheson influenced countless generations of future writers and filmmakers throughout his career and he will long be remembered as one of the great sci-fi writers, next to Jules Verne, HG Wells and Stephen King - who coincidentally referred to Matheson as his biggest inspiration as a writer.
His most famous work, I Am Legend, was published in 1954 and since then it has gone on to spawn at least three movie adaptions, with the 2007 Will Smith-starring version perhaps the most famous, with no disrespect to 1971's The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston and The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price from 1964. He also wrote the short story and eventually the screenplay for the movie Duel, which became Steven Spielberg's breakthrough movie as a director, and most recently was involved in the 2009 Cameron Diaz starring The Box, which was adapted from his short story Button, Button.
Away from film, his work on television was just as, if no more influential than his work for the big screen and on print. He wrote countless episodes of The Twilight Zone, including one of he most iconic stories - 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet' - about a man (played by William Shatner) who is seemingly the only person on his in-transit plane who can see a gremlin on the wing trying to bring it down. He was also one of the first writers for the original Star Trek series, an honour that needs no elaborating on. The Hugh Jackman movie Real Steel was based on a Twilight episode by Matheson called 'Steel.'
Since his passing countless movie-makers, novelist and admirers of Matheson have paid their respects to the late, great writer, including Richard Kelly and Roger Corman, with Steven Spielberg releasing a statement in response to the death on Monday (June 24). "Richard Matheson's ironic and iconic imagination created seminal science-fiction stories and gave me my first break. For me, he is in the same category as Bradbury and Asimov."
The writer was due to receive a special award at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films' Annual Saturn Awards in recognition to his service to the horror and sci-fi genre, however the ceremony will instead became a night to honour Matheson in.
Richard Burton Matheson; February 20, 1926 - June 23, 2013.
Stephen King has long acknowledge the impact of Matheson's writing
Richard Kelly adapted his film 'The Box' from a Matheson short story