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Original 'Night of the Living Dead' zombie Bill Hinzman dies at 75

Bill Hinzman in "Night of the Living Dead."

He wasn't the first-ever movie zombie, but he was the first to appear in George A. Romero's 1968 classic, "Night of the Living Dead."

Actor Bill Hinzman has died of cancer at 75, horror site Dread Central is reporting.

His character, dubbed the Graveyard Zombie, makes an appearance early in the film, staggering towards brother and sister Barbara and Johnny in a cemetery, and killing Johnny. The line, "They're coming to get you, Barbara" is famously delivered by Johnny just before Hinzman comes after the siblings.

Other creatures called zombies had been depicted in film, but it was Romero who introduced the slow-walking, flesh-eating undead that we now think of when we hear the term. The movie is a cinema classic, and thousands of variously decaying zombies have attacked humans in films since then, but Hinzman was the first.

Dread Central had high praise for Hinzman. "A fixture on the convention circuit, Bill was always there with a smile for fans, often appearing in costume as the famed ghoul we all grew up with," site contributor Uncle Creepy (!) wrote.

Hinzman later acted in other horror films, and wrote, produced, edited, directed and starred in 1988's "Flesh Eater," in which he appears to play the same zombie from "Night of the Living Dead." He continued to represent the film that made him famous, even answering questions at a Chicago production of "The Musical of the Living Dead."


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