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Richard Matheson: 1926-2013

NEWS - OFFWORLD

The prolific and influential sci-fi and horror writer has died at the age of 87...

Remembering Richard Matheson: 1926-2013, who wrote episodes of 'The Twilight Zone' among many others...

We at Shadowlocked are saddened to announce the passing of a writing legend, Richard Burton Matheson. Born on February 10, 1926 to Norwegian immigrants, Matheson was raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943. He served as an infantry soldier in World War II, earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 1949, and moved to California in 1951. He married Ruth Ann Woodson on July 1, 1952 and the pair had four children (three of whom – Chris, Richard Christian, and Ali Matheson – became writers of fiction and screenplays).

Matheson was a very influential writer, writing not only many novels, novellas and short stories that were adapted for television and film – I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, What Dreams May Come and A Stir of Echoes, to name just a few – but also writing 14 memorable episodes of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet’ is probably his most known, if only for William Shatner’s wonderful performance of a man who has recently had a nervous breakdown claiming he has witnessed something tearing the plane apart from outside of the cabin. He also adapted his short story Steel into an episode of the same name, which would then be adapted in the 2011 film Real Steel. Matheson also wrote the fan favorite episode ‘The Enemy Within’ of the original Star Trek series, and adapted several of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories for film for director Roger Corman. He also wrote for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Rod Serling's Night Gallery, The Martian Chronicles and Amazing Stories, contributed to the Western television series Lawman, and wrote several western stories and novels as well as several suspense stories.

Matheson received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1984, as well as the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Horror Writers Association in 1991. He was inducted into The Science Fiction Hall of Fame him 2010. At the annual World Fantasy Conventions he won two judged, annual literary awards for particular works: World Fantasy Awards for Bid Time Return as the best novel of 1975 and Richard Matheson: Collected Stories as the best collection of 1989. He was scheduled to receive the visionary award at the Academy of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Films' Saturn Awards on Wednesday. The organization said the award will be presented posthumously and the 39th annual ceremony would be dedicated to Matheson. According to Robert Holguin, the academy's president:

“We are heartbroken to lose a writer of towering talent, unlimited imagination and unparalleled inspiration. Richard was a genius whose visions helped bring legitimacy and critical acclaim to science fiction and fantasy. He was also a longtime supporter of the academy, and everyone associated with the Saturn Awards feels emptier today to learn of this enormous loss.”

His work influenced many writers and directors, such as George A. Romero, who was inspired by I Am Legend to create Night of the Living Dead. Stephen King was an avid fan, and dedicated his novel Cell to the writer. Anne Rice claimed his story A Dress of White Satin fueled her interest in vampires, which inspired her to write Interview With The Vampire and the subsequent Vampire Chronicles. And The X-Files creator Chris Carter named a character after him, because of his love for Matheson’s work on two of his favorite programs, The Twilight Zone and Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

Richard Matheson passed away on June 23, 2013 at the age of 87. He is survived by his wife and four children.


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