US sci-fi and fantasy writer Richard Matheson, who wrote the 1954 vampire novel I Am Legend, has died aged 87.

A spokesman for the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films said Matheson died on Sunday in Los Angeles, but no other details were provided.

In a career spanning some 60 years, many of the author’s works were adapted for both the big and small screens.

I Am Legend was his most successful, inspiring three film adaptations – most recently in 2007 starring Will Smith.

The novel was considered a landmark work in the genre, ushering in apocalyptic themes to post-WWII America.

Vincent Price starred in the first adaptation in 1964, titled as The Last Man on Earth.

Charlton Heston later starred in the 1971 adaptation, Omega Man.

The 2007 version saw Smith star as Robert Neville – the seemingly last human on Earth – trying to find a cure for a genetically-engineered virus that has turned the population into mutant vampiric creatures.

Born in Allendale, New Jersey, in 1926 and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Matheson first began publishing science-fiction and horror stories in the 1950s.

His earlier works adapted into films included 1953 novel Hell House, 1956’s The Shrinking Man and 1958’s A Stir of Echoes.

The 1978 novel What Dreams May Come was also adapted into a big screen version in 1998 starring Robin Williams, which won an Oscar for best visual effects.

Steven Spielberg’s first feature-length film, Duel, was also based on Matheson’s short story of the same name.

via BBC News – I Am Legend author Richard Matheson dies.

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