- NAME: Richard Matheson
- OCCUPATION: Author, Screenwriter
- BIRTH DATE: February 20, 1926
- DEATH DATE: June 23, 2013
- EDUCATION: Brooklyn Technical High School, University of Missouri
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Allendale, New Jersey
- PLACE OF DEATH: Calabasas, California
- Full Name: Richard Burton Matheson
- AKA: Richard Matheson
Best Known For
Writer Richard Matheson wrote several popular and influential science fiction novels, including I am Legend (1954) and The Shrinking Man (1956).
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Author Richard Matheson was born in 1926 in New Jersey. Known for his many works in science fiction, Matheson's first short story was Born of Man and Woman (1950). He is arguably best remembered for his novel I Am Legend (1954), which was adapted into film on three separate occasions: The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971) and I Am Legend (2007). In addition to writing novels, Matheson worked as a screenwriter,
"I think we're yearning for something beyond the every day. And I will tell you I don't believe in the supernatural, I believe in the supernormal. To me there is nothing that goes against nature. If it seems incomprehensible, it's only because we haven't been able to understand it yet."
"I think most writers can never divorce themselves from their private lives and personas; they are the ones that are writing. And the more they remove themselves from their own persona, the more, perhaps, mechanical the work becomes."
"I was on an airplane and I looked out and there were all these fluffy clouds and I thought, 'Gee, what if I saw a guy skiing across that like it was snow?,' because it looked like snow. But when I thought it over, that’s not very scary, so I turned it into a gremlin out on the wing."
"Life is a huge wheel and it goes around and around, and life after death is just a segment of that. It comes down to spiritual growth. I think that we keep coming back until we learn what we need to learn, until we get it right."
authoring several episodes of The Twilight Zone (1959). He died in Calabasas, California, on June 23, 2013.
Science fiction author and screenwriter Richard Burton Matheson was born on February 20, 1926, in Allendale, New Jersey, to Bertolf and Fanny Matheson, Norwegian immigrants. Matheson's parents divorced when he was 8 years old, and he was raised by his mother in Brooklyn, New York. Around the same time, he saw his first piece of work—a poem—published in the Brooklyn Eagle. It was also during his childhood that Matheson saw the film Dracula, which made the boy think, "If one vampire is scary, what if the whole world is full of vampires?" according to the Archive of American Television.
Richard Matheson's interest in writing and reading continued to grow as he got older. As a teenager, he read a large selection of novels from author Kenneth Roberts, one of his earliest influences. After graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School, he joined the U.S. Army and served in Europe during World War II (this experience would later provide the inspiration for his novel The Beardless Warrior). After serving in the military, in 1949, he earned his B.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Not long after, he relocated to California.
While in California, Matheson began trying to establish himself as an author. His first novel, Hunger and Thirst, remained unpublished for years. It wasn't until he wrote the short story Born of Man and Woman (1950) that he was able to expose audiences to his unique form of storytelling in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which detailed the story of a husband and wife who gave birth to a monster, only to keep him hidden from the world in a cellar. This work marked the first of many published narratives focusing on the darker, twisted and abnormal side of reality.
Readers appreciated Matheson's knack for creating unexplainable scenarios in conventional environments. He continued to write several other published stories, including Third from the Sun (1950), Trespass (1953) and The Test (1954), but it wasn't enough to support the writer financially. Even after publishing I Am Legend—a fantasy world he created which was filled with vampires, the same concept he envisioned as a child—in 1954, Matheson had to work at the Douglas Aircraft plant in Santa Monica.
Though I Am Legend went on to become one of Matheson's most popular works, spawning three film adaptations—The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971) and I Am Legend (2007)—his 1956 novel The Shrinking Man made it possible for him to create a career out of his passion.
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