Calabasas, CA — Prolific science fiction/fantasy writer Richard Matheson died yesterday at age 87 from what is said to be natural causes.
Matheson authored a host of short stories, screenplays, and novels many of which wound up on screen. His 1954 novel I Am Legend was filmed three times, as The Last Man on Earth (1964, starring Vincent Price), The Omega Man (starring Charlton Heston in 1971), and with the original title in 2007 with Will Smith in the title role.
Included among his body of work, he also wrote 16 Twilight Zone episodes including the famous “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” featuring William Shatner.
Earlier this year, we reported that a modern update of the Richard Matheson novel The Shrinking Man — which became the 1957 film The Incredible Shrinking Man — was on the drawing board at MGM Studios.
In an interview, Matheson — who was inducted in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010 — said he got the idea for I Am Legend after seeing the Dracula movie and wondering what it would be like to try to survive in a world filled with vampires.
Of Richard Matheson, Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof said according to The Hollywood Reporter that “Richard Matheson was a juggernaut of genre… But his writing never lost sight of the characters who inhabited the incredible worlds he created. Every time I fly, I look out at the wing, just in case. He will be profoundly missed.”
In a statement about Richard Matheson’s passing, Steven Spielberg said “Richard Matheson’s ironic and iconic imagination created seminal science-fiction stories and gave me my first break when he wrote the short story and screenplay for Duel.”
According to The Atlantic, “Matheson’s writing lends itself particularly well to contemporary Hollywood because it’s ‘high concept’ — which translates, in screenwriting parlance, to ‘easy to pitch.’ At the heart of Matheson’s best tales you’ll find a simple, compelling question … When filmmakers do pull off Matheson’s big ideas, the results can be thrilling.”
[top image credit: JaSunni]