Richard Matheson, the writer of vampire novel I Am Legend and a writer for the original Twilight Zone, has died after a long illness at the age of 87.
The American writer penned many classic novels; among these we can include What Dreams May Come, which later became a movie starring Robin Williams, and his most well-known novel I Am Legend, whichbecame a box office blockbuster starring Will Smith. Whilst writing for the Twilight Zone, he wrote the episode ‘Nightmare At 20,000 Feet’ which originally starred a young William Shatner, and remains one of the most memorable stories recalled when people think of The Twilight Zone.
As well as a prolific writing career, he had an influence on many other writers, most famously Stephen King. King was known to say that Matheson was the biggest influence on his work. Ray Bradbury also called him one of the most important writers of the 20th century.
In a 2001 interview, Matheson explained to his fans where he got the idea for I Am Legend—a book which was turned into a movie on no less than three occasions as The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971) and most recently, I Am Legend (2007):
“The idea for I Am Legend came to me when I was about 16. I went to see Dracula and the thought occurred that, if one vampire was scary, a world filled with vampires would really be scary. I did not write the book until 1952. We lived in Gardena, California and I set the story there, using our house as Neville’s house. I think that ascribing metaphors to a book after it is written is silly. My son Richard provided a much more likely one- that it was prophetic because of AIDS. I don’t think the book means anything more than it is: the story of a man trying to survive in a world of vampires.”
Matheson was inducted in 2010 into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and won the Bram Stoker lifetime achievement award.
His daughter posted a message regarding her father on Facebook:
“My beloved father passed away yesterday at home surrounded by the people and things he loved…he was funny, brilliant, loving, generous, kind, creative, and the most wonderful father ever…I miss you and love you forever Pop and I know you are now happy and healthy in a beautiful place full of love and joy you always knew was there…”
Rest in peace, Mr. Matheson.