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 may be known best as the author of I Am Legend, a 1954 horror novel that has been adapted for the screen four times, although 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. Matheson also wrote numerous television episodes of The Twilight Zone for Rod Serling, including "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" and "Steel". He later adapted his 1971 short story "Duel" as a screenplay which was promptly directed by a young Steven Spielberg, for the television movie of the same name.
Matheson's first short story was published when he was only eight years old, appearing in his local newspaper The Brooklyn Eagle. After graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943 he did a spell of service in the US Army, an experience which featured in his 1960 novel The Beardless Warriors. After the war he studied journalism at the University of Missouri, graduating in 1949.
His first novel, Hunger and Thirst, was ignored by publishers for several decades but his short story "Born of Man and Woman" was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Summer 1950, the new quarterly's third issue and attracted attention. It is the tale of a monstrous child chained by its parents in the cellar, cast as the creature's diary in poignantly non-idiomatic English. Later that year he placed stories in the first and third numbers of Galaxy Science Fiction, a new monthly. His first anthology of work was published in 1954. Between 1950 and 1971, he produced dozens of stories, frequently blending elements of the science fiction, horror, and fantasy genres. He was a member of the Southern California School of Writers in the 1950s and 1960s, which included Charles Beaumont, Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan, Jerry Sohl, and others. Matheson appears in two documentaries related to this era: Jason V Brock's Charles Beaumont: The Life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man, and The AckerMonster Chronicles!, which details the life of agent and editor Forrest J Ackerman...
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