The creativity and sheer talent of Richard Matheson made him an indelible part of pop culture. Decades of writing novels and short stories, largely in horror and fantasy, and screenwriting for shows such as The Twilight Zone led to him creating some of the most memorable moments in pop culture. He passed away yesterday, and to celebrate his life, here are five places you may not have realized you’ve seen his work.
Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, about the last man on Earth fighting vampires, has been adapted no fewer than three times: A faithful, low-budget version starring Vincent Price; The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston; and the recent I Am Legend, featuring Will Smith.
Yes, the classic story about being scared to fly, and turning out to have those fears proven 100% right, was originally written by Matheson for The Twilight Zone and featured a young William Shatner, before being remade in 1983 with John Lithgow for the movie. Ask any flight attendant; the story lives on.
The Family Guy episode where they try to find to find the source of all dirty jokes? It’s based on one of Matheson’s lighter stories from the 1950s. Believe it or not, Family Guy actually managed to stay true to the spirit of the story, albeit the story itself is funnier.
Matheson’s story of washed-up boxers training robots, before having to get in the ring as robots themselves, was originally a Twilight Zone episode before being turned into the 2011 movie Real Steel.
Matheson could write a lot more than just horror; he also had a taste for metaphysical romances, which resulted in this movie, arguably one of Christopher Reeve’s best performances.
This is just a sampling of Matheson’s career: The Incredible Shrinking Man, Duel (one of the first movies from a young Steven Spielberg), The Comedy Of Terrors… there are plenty of other highlights. Thankfully his work has been collected multiple times and is fairly simple to find; any bookstore will have several collections, and they’re all worth reading.