The pop culture landscape would be a much different, and significantly lesser, place without the contributions of Richard Matheson. Which is why it's deeply saddening to report that Matheson, 87, has passed away. The announcement came from his daughter, Ali Marie Matheson, on Facebook, writing, "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.."

How major was Mr. Matheson? Where do we begin? For one, Stephen King was once quoted as saying, "The author who influenced me most as a writer is Richard Matheson," a claim that's inarguably backed by a sterling bibliography that includes the novels I Am Legend, Hell House, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and What Dreams May Come, as well as an exceptional array of highly influential short horror, science fiction, and fantasy short stories. The New Jersey-born Matheson was also a head writer for the iconic anthology TV series The Twilight Zone.

And consider this: He wrote the original short story, as well as the adapted screenplay for Duel, turned into a celebrated made-for-TV movie in 1971 by a then-unknown director named Steven Spielberg. Meaning, without Matheson's work, there'd possibly be no Steven Spielberg. Ponder the ramifications of that.

In terms of giants within the horror/fantasy world, they don't get much bigger, and more incredibly gifted, than Richard Matheson. R.I.P. to one of the greats. Yes, he is, indeed, legend.

[via The Guardian]