He came up with the idea of splitting Capt. Kirk into two people, and it helped propel "Star Trek" to an instant hit in the 1960s. But now the world has to say good-bye to Richard Matheson, the prolific science-fiction television writer and author, who died Sunday at 87.
Matheson wrote "The Enemy Within," which premiered on NBC on Oct. 6, 1966. A transporter accident -- the first of what would be many throughout Star Trek's storied life -- created two Capt. Kirks. One was weak and indecisive while the other was just plain mean. However, transporter mishaps wasn't the only thing Matheson created. A scripted karate chop to subdue Kirk was changed by Leonard Nimoy into something much more peaceful befitting of a Vulcan -- the now-famous Vulcan nerve pinch.
Despite his work on shows like "The Twilight Zone" and his novels and short stories like "I Am Legend" and "Steel" (the latter which would become the film "Real Steel" in 2011), "The Enemy Within" would be the only contribution Matheson would make to the Star Trek universe.
Matheson was born Feb. 20, 1926, in Allendale, N.J., what is now a small town of just over 6,000 people that is also the home town of baseball manager Lou Piniella.
Matheson, however, was raised in Brooklyn, and after graduating from college, moved to California in 1951.
There he published short stories like "Trespass" and "Third From the Sun." He also wrote "Duel," which was adapted into an early television movie that would help launch the career of Steven Spielberg. The now-famous director had been a fan of Matheson since his work on "Twilight Zone," where he wrote more than a dozen episodes. Matheson once said that he was inspired to write the story on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 when an angry truck driver was tailgating him down a highway.
Matheson is also said to have influenced other writers and filmmakers in the genre, including Stephen King, Anne Rice and even George Romero.
Matheson was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award in 1987 for his work in the television show "Amazing Stories." He was also nominated for three Hugos, winning just one in 1958 for "The Incredible Shrinking Man." He would also win lifetime achievement honors through the Bram Stoker Awards in 1991 and the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in 2013.
He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Ruth Ann Woodson, as well as four children.
About the Author
Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for 1701News, Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus, and a co-founder of 1701News. He lives in Tampa, Fla.