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'I Am Legend' Author Richard Matheson Dies At Age 87

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Sci-fi icon Richard Matheson, who penned the much-filmed book I Am Legend and several classic Twilight Zone episodes, has died.

io9 reports that Matheson died yesterday "after a long illness." He was 87. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Matheson died at his home in Calabasas.

Matheson wrote his most famous novel, I Am Legend, in 1952. It was filmed in 1964 as The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price, in 1971 as Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston, and in 2007 as I Am Legend, with Will Smith.

His books Somewhere In Time, What Dreams May Come, A Stir of Echoes, and The Shrinking Man also became movies, the latter becoming the '50s sci-fi classic The Incredible Shrinking Man. He also wrote Duel, which he adapted for Steven Spielberg's directorial debut.

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He's also responsible for the classic William Shatner Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." He shared his inspiration for the gremlin that drives Shatner out of his mind in mid-air: "I was on an airplane and I looked out and there was all these fluffy clouds and I thought, 'Gee what if I saw a guy skiing across that like it was snow?', because it looked like snow. But when I thought it over, that's not very scary, so I turned it into a gremlin out on the wing of the airplane."

According to the io9, his daughter posted of his passing on her Facebook page.

My beloved father passed away yesterday at home surrounded by the people and things he loved...he was funny, brilliant, loving, generous, kind, creative, and the most wonderful father ever...I miss you and love you forever Pop and I know you are now happy and healthy in a beautiful place full of love and joy you always knew was there...

Ray Bradbury called him "one of the most important writers of the 20th century," and Stephen King said Matheson was "the author who influenced me most as a writer."

Roger Corman, for whom Matheson wrote several Poe adaptations, including Pit and the Pendulum and House of Usher, tweeted his respects today.

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