Entertainment News

  • 26 June 2013, 2:58

Richard Matheson: Sci-Fi Author Dies Aged 87

US science-fiction author Richard Matheson, whose novels and stories were adapted for the big screen and television, has died aged 87.

A spokesman for the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films said he died on Sunday in Los Angeles.

He is survived by his wife and four children.

Matheson's 1954 horror novel I Am Legend was adapted three times as a film, most recently in 2007 as a big-budget thriller starring Will Smith.

It is considered a landmark work in the genre, ushering in zombies and apocalyptic themes to post-World War Two America.

Matheson often began with simple ideas, once saying he had written I Am Legend because: "I saw Dracula and it was scary, so I thought if everybody in the world was a vampire, it would be scarier."

He was also well-known for the 1963 teleplay Nightmare At 20,000 Feet, which he wrote for The Twilight Zone television series.

The episode, which stars William Shatner, has become a much-referenced TV classic with a famous shot of a gremlin peering into the window of a plane from its wing.

Stephen Spielberg paid tribute to the author who wrote the screenplay for 1971's Duel, one of the director's first films.

He said in a statement: "Richard Matheson's ironic and iconic imagination created seminal science-fiction stories and gave me my first break when he wrote the short story and screenplay for Duel.

"His Twilight Zones were among my favourites, and he recently worked with us on Real Steel. For me, he is in the same category as Bradbury and Asimov."

Author Ray Bradbury is best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, while Isaac Asimov was considered most famous for the Foundation Series.

Matheson, who was born in New Jersey and raised in New York, first began publishing science-fiction and horror stories in the 1950s.

His stories, which often explored the lives of men who must battle tremendous odds alone in a hostile world, inspired writers like Stephen King.

He was credited as a writer on at least 80 film and television productions over his career spanning seven decades, according to the Internet Movie Database.

In 1956, Matheson wrote The Shrinking Man, which was turned into the classic sci-fi film The Incredible Shrinking Man.

He also wrote Hell House, What Dreams May Come and A Stir Of Echoes, which have been adapted as major motion pictures, and the popular Star Trek episode The Enemy Within.

Over the course of his career he received a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and aBram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010.

He was scheduled to receive the visionary award at the Academy of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Films' Saturn Awards on Wednesday.

The organisation said it will be presented posthumously.

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