Richard Matheson, 1926 - 2013
As giants in the horror and sci-fi genres go, Richard Matheson is a unique case. He's not a familiar name for most media audiences, yet his influence is so pervasive that it's impossible to imagine modern horror and sci-fi pop culture without him.
In the early years of my geekhood, I familiarized myself with both classic and contemporary horror and sci-fi movies and TV shows but Matheson's name never stood out in any obvious way. Unlike horror/sci-fi celebrities such as Stephen King and Steven Spielberg--both of whom have been heavily influenced by Matheson--I rarely saw Matheson's name used to promote his work. It wasn't until I noticed the appearance of his name in the credits of many movies and TV shows that I was able to understand who he was.
Even though he is a well-respected novelist and short story author in his own right, Matheson frequently contributed his talents to film and TV production. He would either adapt his written work into scripts (The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Legend of Hell House), adapt the work of others into scripts (Burn, Witch, Burn, The Devil Rides Out), or create completely original scripts (The Comedy of Terrors, Kolchak: The Night Stalker). Outside of his direct contributions to Hollywood, many of his other stories and novels were adapted by others into movies and for episodes of TV shows such as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Twilight Zone, and Night Gallery. Chances are that if you're a fan of any horror/sci-fi movie franchise or TV series within the last 60 years, Matheson probably had something to do with it.
Although he recently passed away, it's still Richard Matheson's world. We horror and sci-fi fans are just living in it.