Bill Hinzman, the first zombie to lumber across the screen in George A. Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead, has sadly passed away. Details are slim right now, but it’s reported that he succumbed to cancer. Check back here for any updates.
I never get really sentimental when people in the film world leave us, but I’ve met Bill numerous times over the last decade. He was a regular at the Spooky Empire horror convention in Orlando, FL and kicked off the annual zombie walk almost every year that I went. He was always a cool guy, hanging out at the pool with everyone as the festival started winding down for the evening, and I never saw him turn down a fan for a quick photo in the hallway, an autograph, or even an interview.
He was in several early Romero films – he even DPed The Crazies – but his first scene in Night would set the precedent for the undead in one of the most well-known and highly regarded trilogies in horror history (I count Land as the start of a new one). RIP Bill Hinzman, THE FIRST ROMERO ZOMBIE.