Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend, dies at 86

We lost a legend today. Writer Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend and a ton of other great works, passed away at the age of 86. From movies to books to television — he’s done it all. And done it well.

Matheson's daughter Ali Marie announced his passing in a private Facebook post :

My beloved father passed away yesterday at home surrounded by the people and things he loved…he was funny, brilliant, loving, generous, kind, creative, and the most wonderful father ever…I miss you and love you forever Pop and I know you are now happy and healthy in a beautiful place full of love and joy you always knew was there…

On the literary front, Matheson is best known for writing the aforementioned I Am Legend, Stir of Echoes, The Shrinking Man, What Dreams May Come and Hell House — but he's been writing since the early '50s and never stopped. His last novel, Generations, was published in 2012.

His short stories have also inspired a few feature films, including his 1970 story “Button, Button” (reimagined as a Twilight Zone ep, as well as 2009’s The Box) and “Real Steel” from 1956, which turned into Hugh Jackman’s metal-kicking boxing flick of the same name in 2011.

Matheson has been a force in sci-fi for decades, and in addition to his myriad novels and movie credits, also cut his teeth writing some of the most iconic Twilight Zone episodes produced, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” “Steel” and “Little Girl Lost.” Even cooler? He also wrote the Star Trek: Original Series episode “The Enemy Within,” which featured good vs. evil versions of Capt. Kirk.

Matheson has been making great sci-fi for longer than most fans have been alive, and even if you’ve never gotten into any of his works, he’s almost certainly had an effect on someone you do like. Stephen King cites him as “ the author who influenced [him] most as a writer,” and some of his work on The Twilight Zone is groundbreaking stuff that paved the way for all the smart, serious sci-fi we enjoy today.

R.I.P. — you will be missed.

(Via John Shirley)

Related Stories

Star Trek writer's brilliant Twilight Zone/Mad Men mashup

I started following Marc Scott Zicree's career long before he wrote some of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5—back when he was analyzing Twilight Zone episodes in the 1980s' magazine of the same name (essays later collected in the indispensable The Twilight Zone Companion).

Star Trek vs. Star Wars and 14 more genre feuds viewed as graphs

Star Trek vs. Star Wars. Freddy vs. Jason. Twilight Zone vs. Outer Limits. Why can't there be a way to settle these genre feuds once and for all? Well, what do you know? There is!

That signpost up ahead? It's your next stop: a Rod Serling movie Don Kaye

There have been three Twilight Zone TV series, a feature film, a magazine, comic books and all kinds of other stuff. But there has never been a movie about its creator Rod Serling—until now.