Invalided out of World War II, American writer Richard Matheson majored in journalism at the University of Missouri. Unable to secure a job at a magazine or newspaper, Matheson turned to freelancing, scoring an immediate success with his first fantasy piece, 1950's Born of Man and Woman. He tried to break into movies as early as 1951, but it wasn't until Universal bought the rights to Matheson's novel The Shrinking Man that he gained access to Hollywood -- on his own terms. He agreed to sell his novel only on the condition that he adapt the screenplay: the result was the 1957 existential sci-fi classic The Incredible Shrinking Man. Matheson's specialty was unearthing horrific or fantastic situations in the most commonplace of locales; his characters often courted insanity as they vainly tried to convince those around them that "something is out there." While Matheson's best novel I Am Legend was never satisfactorily brought to the screen, the author has been otherwise well served by Hollywood. Richard Matheson's vast cinematic and television output has included his screenplays for Roger Corman's Edgar Allen Poe films of the '60s; his unbearably suspenseful Duel, directed for TV by Steven Spielberg in 1971; his adaptation of Jeff Rice's The Night Stalker, which became the highest-rated TV movie up to 1972; and his prolific scriptwork for Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, including the legendary marrow-chiller "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."
by Hal Erickson biography