On June 23, 2013, the world of horror fiction lost one of its most influential and talented authors – Richard Matheson, who passed away at the age of 87.
Born on February 20, 1926 in New Jersey, Matheson was raised in Brooklyn (my birthplace and hometown) and served as a soldier in World War II before earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He contributed several seminal works to the horror and science fiction genres, including I am Legend, A Stir of Echoes, and What Dreams May Come.
Many of his books (including those mentioned) were adapted as films. In addition to his novels, Matheson also wrote several episodes of The Twilight Zone, including my personal favorite, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” He was the recipient of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement (1984), the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement (1991) and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010.
His work not only had a profound impact on the genre itself, but also on some of the most respected writers and directors of horror and science fiction. In his article in The New York Daily News entitled “Horror Legend Goes to the Grave,” Ethan Sacks writes, “Fellow horror legend Stephen King cited Matheson as an inspiration and one of his favorite authors.” In a tribute to Matheson on his website, StephenKing.com, King emphasizes the late author’s immense impact on the genre: “Matheson fired the imaginations of three generations of writers. Without his I am Legend, there would have been no Night of the Living Dead; without Night of the Living Dead, there would have been no Walking Dead, 28 Days Later or World War Z.”
Although Matheson has passed away, he will continue to live on through his countless works.