‘I Am Legend’ Novelist Richard Matheson Dead

'I Am Legend' Novelist Richard Matheson Dead

Celebrated author wrote dozens of short stories, as well as 28 novels — many of which were adapted for film and television

Richard Matheson, the author of sci-fi classics including "I Am Legend" and "The Shrinking Man," died in his Calabasas, Calif. home on Sunday. He was 87.

His daughter, screenwriter Ali Matheson, shared the news on Facebook.

"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," Matheson wrote. "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."

See photos: Hollywood's Notable Deaths of 2013

Matheson was born in New Jersey in 1926 and raised in Brooklyn before earning his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 1949 and moving to California in 1951.

While Matheson is primarily known for his many novels and short stories that have been adapted for film and television, he also had a prominent screenwriting career. He wrote 17 episodes of "The Twilight Zone," including one based on his own short story, "Steel," which was the inspiration for the 2011 Hugh Jackman movie, "Real Steel." Similarly, he adapted his short story "Button, Button" for a 1986 episode of the sci-fi series. "The Box," a 2009 Richard Kelly film, was based on the same story.

Other TV writing credits include "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "Lawman," "Night Stalker" and "Duel," a 1971 made-for-TV movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

Films "Stir of Echoes," "What Dreams May Come," "The Incredible Shrinking Man," "The Legend of Hell House" and "Somewhere in Time" are all based on his novels. "I Am Legend," a 1954 novel about the last man on Earth after a vampire pandemic wipes out mankind, inspired the 2007 Will Smith film of the same name, as well as 1964's "The Last Man on Earth" and 1971's "The Omega Man," starring Charlton Heston. 

Matheson had four children with his wife, Ruth. Three of his children, Chris, Richard Christian and Ali, are also writers with a lengthy list of TV and film credits to their names.