Richard Burton Matheson (1926 - 2013)

Richard Burton Matheson (1926 – 2013)

Diabolique readers, we are saddened to report that literary maestro and genre icon Richard Matheson passed away yesterday at the age of 87.

Matheson was a legend in his own right, having written some of the most important and influential tales in horror history. Most casual fans may recognize the author from I Am Legend, which inspired adaptations starring the likes of major movie stars such as Vincent Price, Charlton Heston and Will Smith. However, Matheson was much more prolific and influential than we ever will know, as his work will continue to inspire others for decades to come.

The writer of 28 novels and 99 short stories between 1953 and 2012, Matheson was a talent like no other. Without Matheson, the world may have never seen the talent of Steven Spielberg, whose TV film adaptation of Matheson’s “Duel” was what earned the young filmmaker his breakthrough directorial job with Jaws. Without Matheson, films like The Incredible Shrinking Man, Stir of Echoes, What Dreams May Come, The Box, Trilogy of Terror and Real Steel would have never came to be. And without Matheson, The Twilight Zone would be a mere shadow of the imaginative, captivating science-fiction juggernaut that is it today, with many memorable episodes derived from Matheson’s cranium.

The fact that Matheson was not only so productive as a literary writer but also on the forefront of his film and television projects is a testament to his professionalism, skill and passion. Brilliant as they come, Matheson’s imagination and philosophical understand was a invaluable resource that has been imitated, tweaked and sometimes flat out copied. Throughout his storied career, Matheson kept a great relationship with filmmakers like Rod Serling, Alfred Hitchcock, and Roger Corman and had worked on Hammer films and Star Trek, whilst also inspiring horror greats like Anne Rice, Stephen King, Chris Carter and George A. Romero.

Even though Matheson carved out a career for his son, Richard Christian Matheson, as well, he remained active, releasing his last novel, “Generations”, last year to critical acclaim. Matheson was not only a writer, but also a fan, discussing genre work at length with friends and colleagues, and was known as a warm and cordial personality. He will be missed, and here at Diabolique, we salute Richard Matheson with the utmost respect and decency.

Rest in Peace

Richard Burton Matheson (1926 -2013)


– By Ken W. Hanley