Richard Burton Matheson was born in born in Allendale, New Jersey in 1926, and made his first professional sale to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, in 1950. In 1954 he published I Am Legend, adapting it for the screen as The Last Man on Earth for American International Pictures ten years later.
While he continued to write short stories into the 1970s (returning to the form later in life) and novels, from the late 1950s he wrote original and adapted scripts for television and films. His first produced script was The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), which began a productive period with AIP. The AIP Edgar Allen Poe cycle received critical praise despite the paucity of production and limited budget. Mathesosn contributed 14 scripts to the original Twilight Zone, including Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.
In the 1970s he worked with producer Dan Curtis, writing both Night Stalker films and Trilogy of Terror. He adapted his short story Duel for the screen providing Steven Spielberg with his first feature. He ended the decade adapting Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles into a poorly received miniseries for NBC, following this with the feature Jaws 3.
In 1993 he published The Path: Metaphysics for the 90s, his sole non-fiction book. His works remained popular, with Trilogy of Terror II produced in 1996 and The Box (from his short story Button Button) in 2009. In the 2000s Matheson began releasing collections of his scripts, edited by his son Richard Christian. He remained active to the end, publishing the ebook Bakteria and Other Improbable Tales in 2011.
While a giant of fantasy and science fiction, he was prepared to try other genres, with romances Somewhere in Time and Other Kingdoms. Richard Matheson is survived by his wife and four children.
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