The New York native graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism and moved to California in 1951. He penned dozens of stories, many of which were the basis for movies or TV episodes, during his decades-long career.
Films that sprang from Matheson's stories include "The Incredible Shrinking Man," "Somewhere in Time," "What Dreams May Come" and "Stir of Echoes." His novel "I Am Legend" was the basis for three different screen adaptations: 1964's "The Last Man on Earth," the 1971 Charlton Heston movie "Omega Man" and the 2007 Will Smith film, "I Am Legend," The Hollywood Reporter said.
He also wrote for TV shows such as "The Twilight Zone," "Star Trek," "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" and "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour."
"Richard Matheson's ironic and iconic imagination created seminal science-fiction stories and gave me my first break when he wrote the short story and screenplay for 'Duel,'" Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter Monday. "His 'Twilight Zones' were among my favorites, and he recently worked with us on 'Real Steel.' For me, he is in the same category as [Ray] Bradbury and [Isaac] Asimov."
"Richard Matheson was a juggernaut of genre," said Damon Lindelof, co-creator of TV's "Lost."
"But his writing never lost sight of the characters who inhabited the incredible worlds he created. Every time I fly, I look out at the wing, just in case," Lindelof said, referring to Matheson's classic "Twilight Zone" episode -- "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." "He will be profoundly missed."