As one of the greatest contemporary American writers, Richard Matheson influenced so many with his fantasy and horror stories. Most people probably don’t even realize how much power Matheson wielded through his use of words. He was a novelist and screenwriter whose stories and novels were adapted into films such as “I Am Legend.” According to his publisher, Matheson had been ill for some time and passed away on Sunday at his home in Calabasas, California.
As well as creating source material for films including “What Dreams May Come,” “Real Steel,” “A Stir of Echoes” and “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” Matheson was a prolific film and TV scribe. He was responsible for some of the most popular “Twilight Zone” episodes as well as writing for nearly every other anthology series of the 1960s and 70s with credits including “Lawman,” “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery,” “The Martian Chronicles,” “Amazing Stories” and the original “Star Trek” series’ episode “The Enemy Within.”
For “Twilight Zone,” Matheson wrote the classic William Shatner episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” The Hugh Jackman film “Real Steel” was adapted from his “Twilight Zone” episode “Steel.” Matheson also wrote both the novel and screenplay for Christopher Reeve’s time travel film “Somewhere in Time.” Among his other screenplays were “Jaws 3-D” and 1959′s “Beat Generation.”
Numerous sci-fi, horror and fantasy writers and filmmakers were influenced by Matheson’s work, including Stephen King, who called him “the author who influenced me most as a writer” and George Romero, who said the vampires that appeared in the Vincent Price version of “I Am Legend” entitled “The Last Man on Earth” served as inspiration for the zombies in “Night of the Living Dead.”