Richard Matheson, the famed sci-fi author behind I Am Legend, died at the age of 87 this week. He was cited by another famous writer, Stephen King, as an inspiration.
The Inquisitr reported yesterday that Matheson had died at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday, according to his son.
“My father passed peacefully at home yesterday, at 5:22PM, surrounded by love, family and soft music,” Richard Christian Matheson said on his Facebook page. “As monumental as he is as a writer, he was every bit that as a husband, father, grandfather and friend. He was my hero and my best friend and I loved him deeply. I will miss him forever. I know we all will.”
As an author, Matheson is best known for the novels The Shrinking Man, Hell House, What Dreams May Come, Bid Time Return, A Stir of Echoes, and I Am Legend. All of those novel have been adapted for major motion pictures.
I Am Legend specifically has been adapted three times for the screen: Once in 1964 starring Vincent Price, again in 1971 with Charlton Heston, and most recently in 2007 starring Will Smith.
Those adaptations were all wildly different from the source material and indeed, Matheson himself seemed to have a somewhat contentious relationship with Hollywood. When asked about his thought regarding the 1998 adaptation of his novel What Dreams May Come, he said:
“I will not comment on What Dreams May Come except to say that a major producer in Hollywood said to me, ‘They should have shot your book.’ Amen.”
Still, Matheson did work in Hollywood as a screenwriter, mostly for the sci-fi cult hit The Twilight Zone. He is responsible for classic episodes like “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel.” He also adapted his short story Duel for a TV film directed by a rookie Steven Spielberg.
Matheson has a rare legacy that lives on in other prolific writers. Both George Romero and Anne Rice have credited him as a direct inspiration to their own works, and famed horror writer Stephen King called Matheson the biggest influence on his work, and dedicated his novel Cell to him.
He is survived by his wife and their four children. You can watch a video of Richard Matheson giving an acceptance speech for I Am Legend below: