Richard Matheson Passes Away at Age 87

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 24th, 2014 at 12:16 pm,

richard matheson obiturary Richard Matheson Passes Away at Age 87

Richard Matheson, one of the most influential American storytellers to work in the sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres during the past century, has passed away at age 87. The celebrated novelist/screenwriter is reported to have been ill in recent months, and died at home yesterday – at the time of writing this – on June 23rd, 2013. Matheson commemorated his 60-year wedding anniversary with Ruth Anne Woodson last year, and is survived by four children (three being accomplished writers in their own right).

Matheson was born to Norwegian immigrants (Fanny and Bertolf) in Allendale, New Jersey on February 20th, 1926. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943, and then entered the military to serve as an infantry soldier in World War II. After earning a degree in journalism in 1949, Matheson moved to California and formally began his writing career when his short story “Born of Man and Woman” was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1950.

Many of Matheson’s famous and beloved literary works ended up being adapted to the film medium, including genre landmark titles like I Am Legend – which inspired three movie adaptations (the most recent being the 2007 Will Smith vehicle) – and The Shrinking Man, in addition to The Legend of Hell House, What Dreams May Come and A Stir of Echoes, among several others (read the complete list).

Similarly, Matheson wrote the short stories behind films like Steven Spielberg’s directorial debut Duel in 1971 and Somewhere in Time in 1980, as well as Richard Kelly’s The Box and Shawn Levy’s Real Steel in more recent years.

Hugh Jackman Real Steel Richard Matheson Passes Away at Age 87

Hugh Jackman in ‘Real Steel’

It wasn’t just the imaginative nature of Matheson’s oeuvre that established his place in literature and film history, but also the human heart that always pounded so fiercely just beneath the surface of his stories about vampires, miniaturized people, angry specters, mysterious devices, metallic boxers and journeys into the afterlife (among other creative scenarios and fantastical characters). There was a strong moral, ethical and spiritual core to Matheson’s great work, which long helped to distinguish his source material from any lackluster adaptations or derived works of fiction.

Matheson’s work could also be quite pragmatic with its portrayal of futuristic concepts, as he touched upon during an interview with Screen Rant from back in 2011 (explaining the difference between sci-fi and fantasy):

“Science-fiction is perfectly logical, and it could happen. Whereas fantasy, which I prefer, means that there are no rules. Anything can happen and it usually does. It has to be logical, it has to be done in a way that seems like it makes sense to you. But at the same time, there are no strict rules as in science-fiction.”

In addition, Matheson was a prominent writer for the television medium during the second half of the 20th century. He wrote for 16 different episodes of the original Twilight Zone TV series, in addition to episodes on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, the original 1960s Star Trek TV show (Matheson scripted “The Enemy Within”) and the 1970s supernatural horror TV cult classic The Night Stalker, among other noteworthy titles.

The Screen Rant staff would like to express their sincere condolences to the friends and family of Richard Matheson in this difficult time. So many of his stories were personally meaningful – and impactful to millions upon millions of people (including this writer) – that it’s impossible for us to do full justice by his contributions to society through his artful storytelling.

R.I.P. Richard Burton Matheson: February 20th, 1926 – June 23rd, 2013.

richard matheson Richard Matheson Passes Away at Age 87

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  1. I really liked “What Dreams May Come”

    a truly creative man

  2. He was the architect behind some of our wildest dreams and will be greatly missed

  3. One of the Founding Fathers of great sci-fi. RIP, Sir.

  4. One can only hope his passing will reignite people’s interest in his works as he was a true creative genius. He will be missed.

  5. Don’t forget Hell House – a truly chilling book and one of the creepiest haunted house tales ever written. Also, check out the film adaptation The Legend of Hell House currently streaming on Netflix. You won’t regret it. He is legend.

  6. a visionary he will be missed. Matheson and Rod Sterling two of the best.

  7. That man is legend.


  8. A Writing God. He should be a household name. More people have seen something based on one of his works than they would ever realize.

    Thank you sir.

  9. Richard Matheson’s work is legion and ages extremely well.

    A highly evolved writer with a giant social conscience, we met once via snail-mail over a discussion of his short story as published in PLAYBOY magazine — a feral fantasy entitled “Prey”.

    The encounter uncovered a man who was open, cordial, and giving…demonstrating that it’s not only what you do in life, but also how you’re remembered.

  10. It truly boggles my mind the great things Mr. Matheson has written including episodes of the Twilight Zone, Star Trek (TOS), Duel, Somewhere In Time, freakin’ Trilogy of Terror and so much more! May you rest in peace.

  11. A great loss, less than 15 posts. What are books?