He Was Legend

I was shocked when I heard the news of the passing of Richard Matheson. I have read a number of Matheson’s works, and while currently I am Legend is one of my faovrites, I can easily see how his style and storytelling could lead this decision to change as I read and re-read his other titles.

February 20, 1926 - June 23, 2013
February 20, 1926 – June 23, 2013

It is difficult to summarize the impact his writing had on the world. For a man to have influenced the horror genre in both film and book a small summary written by some unknown could never suffice. Without Matheson we may never have had the zombie culture we have today. For Romero based his zombies on those ghouls depicted in the first filming of I am Legend. Stephen King himself has often talked about his repect for Matheson, and the impact his writing had upon him (King).

I did not know Matheson, only through his writing, like so many of his followers, and I feel it would be cold of me to write some tribute to him based on that, and so I will pay my respect by sharing his biogrpahy, his life and his works, and end with a silent tear shed for departed soul.

Sleep softly Mr. Matheson.


Richard Matheson Born Richard Burton Matheson on February 20, 1926, in Allendale, New Jersey, the third child of Bertolf Matheson and Fanny Swanson Matheson (née Svenningsen), both Norwegian immigrants. Grew up without his father, who abandoned the family. Graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943. Served as an Infantryman in Germany during World War II, then earned a journalism degree (1949) from the University of Missouri. Sold his first story, “Born of Man and Woman,” to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1950, followed by “Third from the Sun” (later adapted for the television series The Twilight Zone) and others the same year. Moved to Santa Monica, California, in 1951; married Ruth Ann Woodson, with whom he would have four children, in 1952. Worked as a postal clerk and at an airplane factory, writing stories and two suspense novels, Fury on Sunday and Someone Is Bleeding (both 1953), in his spare time. Published Born of Man and Woman (1954), the first of many story collections. His third novel, I Am Legend (1954; filmed as The Last Man on Earth, 1964; The Omega Man, 1971; and I Am Legend, 2007), gained him wider attention. For his fourth, The Shrinking Man (1956), he also wrote the screenplay (a condition he insisted on when he sold the film rights), beginning a long-sought career as a film and television writer; it was filmed as The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957). Traveled to London to write a screenplay, ultimately blocked by the British censor, for a Hammer Studios version of I Am Legend. Published supernatural science-fiction novel A Stir of Echoes (1958, filmed 1999); suspense novel Ride the Nightmare (1959); and semi-autobiographical World War II novel The Beardless Warriors (1960). From 1959–64, wrote 14 episodes for The Twilight Zone, with two more adapted from his stories; also contributed to many Western and fantastic television series including Star Trek (“The Enemy Within,” 1966), and wrote a number of screenplays, most notably adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories for director Roger Corman, 1960–63. His short story “Duel” (1971) became the basis of Steven Spielberg’s first feature film, made for television the same year. Later novels, many adapted for film, include Hell House (1971), Bid Time Return (1975), What Dreams May Come (1978), and most recently Other Kingdoms (2011). His Collected Stories was published in three volumes in 2003–05. Won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1984 and was inducted into Science Fiction Hall of Fame 2010. Lives in Calabasas, California.


Short stories

  • Born of Man and      Woman” (1950)
  • “Third from the Sun” (1950); adapted as a Twilight Zone      episode      (1960)
  • “The Waker Dreams” (AKA “When the Waker Sleeps”)      (1950)
  • Blood Son”      (1951)
  • “Through Channels” (1951)
  • “Clothes Make the Man” (1951)
  • “Return” (1951)
  • “The Thing” (1951)
  • “Witch War” (1951)
  • “Dress of White Silk” (1951)
  • “F—” (AKA “The Foodlegger”) (1952)
  • “Shipshape Home” (1952)
  • “SRL Ad” (1952)
  • “Advance Notice” (AKA “Letter to the Editor”)      (1952)
  • “Lover, When You’re Near Me” (1952)
  • “Brother to the Machine” (1952)
  • “To Fit the Crime” (1952)
  • “The Wedding” (1953)
  • “Wet Straw” (1953)
  • “Long Distance Call” (AKA “Sorry, Right Number”)      (1953)
  • “Slaughter House” (1953)
  • “Mad House” (1953)
  • “The Last Day” (1953)
  • “Lazarus II” (1953)
  • “Legion of Plotters” (1953)
  • “Death Ship” (1953); adapted as a Twilight Zone      episode      (1963)
  • “Disappearing Act” (1953); adapted as a Twilight Zone      episode      (1959)
  • “The Disinheritors” (1953)
  • “Dying Room Only” (1953)
  • “Full Circle” (1953)
  • “Mother by Protest” (AKA “Trespass”) (1953)
  • “Little Girl Lost” (1953); adapted as a Twilight Zone      episode      (1962)
  • “Being” (1954)
  • “The Curious Child” (1954)
  • “When Day Is Dun” (1954)
  • “Dance of the Dead” (1954); adapted as a Masters of Horror      episode      (2005)
  • “The Man Who Made the World” (1954)
  • “The Traveller” (1954)
  • “The Test” (1954)
  • “The Conqueror” (1954)
  • “Dear Diary” (1954)
  • “The Doll That Does Everything” (1954)
  • “Descent” (1954)
  • “Miss Stardust” (1955)
  • “The Funeral” (1955); adapted as story segment for Rod      Serling’s Night Gallery
  • “Too Proud to Lose” (1955)
  • “One for the Books” (1955)
  • “Pattern for Survival” (1955)
  • “A Flourish of Strumpets” (1956)
  • “The Splendid Source” (1956); the basis of the Family Guy episode “The Splendid Source“.[14]
  • “Steel” (1956); adapted as a Twilight Zone      episode      (1963); loosely filmed as Real Steel (2011)
  • “The Children of Noah” (1957)
  • “A Visit to Santa Claus” (AKA “I’ll Make It Look      Good,” as Logan Swanson) (1957)
  • “The Holiday Man” (1957)
  • “Old Haunts” (1957)
  • “The Distributor” (1958)
  • “The Edge” (1958)
  • “Lemmings” (1958)
  • “Mantage” (1959)
  • “Deadline” (1959)
  • “The Creeping Terror” (AKA “A Touch of      Grapefruit”) (1959)
  • “No Such Thing as a Vampire” (1959)
  • “Big Surprise” (AKA “What Was in the Box”) (1959)
  • “Crickets” (1960)
  • “Day of Reckoning” (AKA “The Faces,”      “Graveyard Shift”) (1960)
  • “First Anniversary” (1960); adapted as an Outer      Limits episode      (1996)
  • “From Shadowed Places” (1960)
  • “Finger Prints” (1962)
  • “Mute” (1962); adapted as a Twilight Zone      episode      (1963)
  • “The Likeness of Julie” (as Logan Swanson) (1962); adapted      into “Julie” in the 1975 TV film Trilogy of Terror
  • “The Jazz Machine” (1963)
  • “Crescendo” (AKA “Shock Wave”) (1963)
  • “Girl of My Dreams” (1963)
  • “‘Tis the Season to Be Jelly” (1963)
  • “Deus Ex Machina” (1963)
  • “Interest” (1965)
  • “A Drink of Water” (1967)
  • “Needle in the Heart” (AKA “Therese”) (1969);      adapted into “Millicent and Therese” in the 1975 TV film Trilogy of Terror
  • “Prey” (1969); adapted into “Ameilia” in the 1975      TV film Trilogy of Terror
  • Button,      Button” (1970); filmed as a The Twilight Zone      episode      in 1986; filmed as The Box      (2009)
  • “‘Til Death Do Us Part” (1970)
  • “By Appointment Only” (1970)
  • “The Finishing Touches” (1970)
  • “Duel” (1971); filmed as Duel      (1971)
  • “Big Surprise” (1971); adapted as story segment for Rod      Serling’s Night Gallery
  • “Where There’s a Will” (with Richard Christian Matheson)      (1980)
  • “And Now I’m Waiting” (1983)
  • “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (as The Twilight Zone      episode      in 1963; as segment four of Twilight Zone:      The Movie, 1983; first published in 1984)
  • “Getting Together” (1986)
  • “Buried Talents” (1987)
  • “The Near Departed” (1987)
  • “Shoo Fly” (1988)
  • “Person to Person” (1989)
  • “Two O’Clock Session” (1991)
  • “The Doll” (as Twilight Zone      episode,      published as a story in 1993)
  • “Go West, Young Man” (1993)
  • “Gunsight” (1993)
  • “Little Jack Cornered” (1993)
  • “Of Death and Thirty Minutes” (1993)

Short story collections

  • Born of Man and Woman (1954)
  • The Shores of Space (1957)
  • Shock! (1961)
  • Shock 2 (1964)
  • Shock 3 (1966)
  • Shock Waves (1970)      Published as Shock 4 in      the UK (1980)
  • Button, Button (1970)
  • Richard Matheson: Collected Stories (1989)
  • By the Gun (1993)
  • Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (2000)
  • Pride with Richard Christian      Matheson (2002)
  • Duel (2002)
  • Offbeat: Uncollected Stories (2002)
  • Darker Places (2004)
  • Unrealized Dreams (2004)
  • Duel and The Distributor (2005) Previously      unpublished screenplays of these two stories
  • Button, Button: Uncanny Stories (2008) (Tor Books)
  • Uncollected Matheson: Volume 1 (2008)
  • Uncollected Matheson: Volume 2 (2010)
  • Steel: And Other Stories (2011)
  • Bakteria and Other Improbable Tales (2011) (e-book exclusive)

Information taken from Wikiedia and Library of America.


One thought on “He Was Legend

  1. My favorite Matheson story would have to be “Prey”; but I would be a liar if I said I knew all about his work and that I was an avid fan. So I will say Rest in Peace, Mister Matheson and leave it at that.

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