"that which you believe becomes your world."
Richard Burton Matheson (February 20, 1926 – June 23, 2013) was an American author and screenwriter, primarily in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres. He is best known as the author of I Am Legend, a 1954 horror novel that has been adapted for the screen four times, as well as the movie Somewhere In Time for which Matheson wrote the screenplay, based on his novel Bid Time Return. Matheson also wrote 16 television episodes of The Twilight Zone for Rod Serling, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”.
He adapted his 1971 short story “Duel” as a screenplay directed by a young Steven Spielberg, for the television movie of the same name that year.
Six more of his novels or short stories have been adapted as major motion pictures: The Shrinking Man, Hell House, What Dreams May Come, Bid Time Return (filmed as Somewhere in Time), A Stir of Echoes and Button, Button. Lesser movies based on his work include two from his early noir novels—Cold Sweat, based on his novel Riding the Nightmare, and Les seins de glace (Icy Breasts) based on his novel Someone is Bleeding.
Sources of inspiration
Matheson cited specific inspirations for many of his works. Duel was derived from an incident in which he and a friend, Jerry Sohl, were dangerously tailgated by a large truck on the same day as the Kennedy assassination.
According to film critic Roger Ebert, Matheson’s scientific approach to the supernatural in I Am Legend and other novels from the 1950s and early 1960s “anticipated pseudorealistic fantasy novels like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.”
Matheson received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1984 and the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Horror Writers Association in 1991. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted him in 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.
Matheson died just days before he was due to receive the Visionary award at the 39th Saturn Award’s ceremony. As a tribute the ceremony was dedicated to him and the award was presented posthumously. Academy President Robert Holguin said “Richard’s accomplishments will live on forever in the imaginations of everyone who read or saw his inspired and inimitable work.”
The tribute anthology He is Legend was published by Gauntlet Press in 2009.