Born just six days after Valentine’s Day in 1926, a true lover of horror and science fiction was born by the name of Richard Matheson. He entered the world in Allendale ,New Jersey and was raised by his Norwegian immigrant parents, he was raised in Brooklyn and even at an early age showed incredible promise as a writer by having his first published story at the tender young age of eight.
It appeared in his local newspaper “The Brooklyn Eagle.” Years later Matheson graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943. Like most young men of the era Matheson was very patriotic and served in World War II in the infantry. Returning from the war, he went to the University of Missouri, graduating in 1949 Matheson then moved to California and met his wife Ruth Ann Woodson and they had 4 children, 3 of them followed in dad’s footsteps and became writers of fiction and screenplays.
However Examiner’s tribute is focused on the patriarch of the family whose works inspired many of today’s legends like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Stephen King just to name a few. Matheson was one of the first to use the “twist” or “shock” ending format made famous on The Twilight Zone and adopted by writer directors like M. Knight Shyamalan.
As a child and still as an adult Matheson’s stories thrill and amaze fans of the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. From this incredible genius sprang stories which served as the basis of such classic television films as “Trilogy of Terror,” who can forget the Zuni warrior fetish that comes to life and terrorizes Karen Black.
“I am Legend” which served as the basis of three films. “The Last Man on Earth” starring Vincent Price, “The Omega Man” starring Charleston Hesston, and “I Am Legend” starring Will Smith. “Hell House” “Duel” Steven Spielberg’s first major hit and so many other that time and space just doesn’t allow enough of either in this instance.
One of his other great achievements was his prolific run as a writer on the original “Twilight Zone.” It was on that show that Matheson created the “twist” endings that became synonymous with the series. Many of his 16 scripts for the show were considered some of the greatest of the entire series and spawned such films as “Real Steel” based on his “Steel.” He also wrote “Bid Time Returns” , the movie version starred Christopher Reeves and was released as “Somewhere in Time.”
His story “What Dreams May come” became an Oscar winning film starring Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr. It was about a man who dies and goes to Heaven and eventually descends into Hell to save his wife. Richard Matheson is writing stories for the big producer in the sky and we fans will forever carry him in our hearts. R.I.P.