The LA Times brings news that legendary horror and zombie filmmaker George A. Romero passed away earlier today at the age of 77. Romero’s producing partner tells the outlet that he died after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer” and passed away while listening to the score of one his favorite films, 1952’s The Quiet Man, with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero, at his side.
Romero was born in The Bronx in 1940 and studied at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where he remained for many years working in commercials and short films. He made his feature film debut with the seminal classic, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. Romero wrote, directed, edited, shot, and acted in the film. The feature kicked off the zombie craze and became a cult sensation after being produced on just a $114,000 budget.
The filmmaker followed up Night of the Living Dead, which tragically fell into the public domain just a few years after release due to a copyright error on the film’s prints, with There’s Always Vanilla, his only romantic comedy. His next film was 1972’s Season of the Witch, followed by The Crazies in 1973, and Martin in 1978. Ten years after Night of the Living Dead was released, he debuted the sequel to the film, the second installment in his “Of the Dead” series with the iconic Dawn of the Dead. The film became another international hit and was the first feature of special effects guru Tom Savini, who would go on to work with Romero throughout his career.
Romero’s output in the 1980s ranged just as much as his early work, with 1981’s Renaissance fair-themed feature Knightriders; 1982’s horror anthology Creepshow (written by Stephen King); 1985’s Day of the Dead (the third in the series); and 1988’s Monkey Shines. Romero later co-directed the film Two Evil Eyes with Italian horror icon Dario Argento. He followed that with a feature adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Half in 1993 and didn’t direct another film until 2000’s Bruiser.
The final three films of Romero’s career capped off his “Of the Dead” franchise with 2005’s Land of the Dead, 2007’s Diary of the Dead, and 2009’s Survival of the Dead.
He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Desrocher, and three children, Andrew, Cameron, and Tina.