Richard Matheson has been called "one of the most important writers of the 20th century" by Ray Bradbury, and his work has inspired many other notable authors. Stephen King cites Matheson as "the author who influenced me most as a writer," and Dean Koontz says, "We're all a lot richer to have Richard Matheson among us." But it's the impact that his work has had on the popular consciousness that gives weight to Bradbury's praise. Even if you've never heard of him, you've almost certainly seen some of his work.
In addition to novels in the mystery, science fiction, horror, fantasy, and western genres, Matheson has been a prolific writer of film and television scripts. He wrote the script for some of the most memorable episodes of The Twilight Zone, including "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" (you remember -- William Shatner sees a gremlin on the wing of the plane . . .), "The Invaders," and "Little Girl Lost." He also wrote episodes of Have Gun, Will Travel, Night Gallery, and Star Trek (among them "The Enemy Within," in which Kirk is split into good and evil halves).
Several of Matheson's novels and stories have been made into films, including The Shrinking Man (filmed as "The Incredible Shrinking Man" in 1957), I Am Legend (filmed twice, once as "The Last Man on Earth" starring Vincent Price in 1964, and again as "The Omega Man" starring Charlton Heston in 1971), and Bid Time Return (filmed as "Somewhere in Time" starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour in 1980). Matheson also wrote the scripts for Stephen Spielberg's first feature film, Duel; the TV-movie The Night Stalker, which drew a record 75 million viewers on its first broadcast; and several of Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe films, including House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), and The Raven (1963).
Over a career spanning five decades, Matheson has won numerable prestigious awards, including the World Fantasy Convention's Life Achievement Award, the Bram Stoker Award for Life Achievement, the Hugo Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Golden Spur Award, and the Writer's Guild Award. Born in New Jersey in 1926, Matheson has lived and worked in California since 1951.