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 three times, although five more of his novels have been adapted as major motion pictures: The Shrinking Man, Hell House, What Dreams May Come, Bid Time Return (filmed as Somewhere in Time), and A Stir of Echoes. 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 TV movie of the same name.
Matheson was born in Allendale, New Jersey, the son of Norwegian immigrants Fanny (née Mathieson) and Bertolf Matheson, a tile floor installer. Matheson was raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943. He then entered the military and spent World War II as an infantry soldier. In 1949 he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and moved to California in 1951. He married Ruth Ann Woodson on July 1, 1952 and had four children, three of whom (Chris, Richard Christian, and Ali Matheson) became writers of fiction and screenplays. He died at his home on June 23, 2013, at the age of 87