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Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (5) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 2 February 1936New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 22 July 1988Mineola, Long Island, New York, USA  (cardiopulmonary arrest)
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Cult figure who will forever be remembered as Ben, the resourceful yet ill-fated hero of George A. Romero's low-budget zombie film Night of the Living Dead (1968). Jones was a former English professor who directed at the Maguire Theater at the Old Westbury campus of New York State University, and he additionally served as artistic director at the Richard Allen Center in New York City. His casting as the hero of the Romero film was rather unique, as it was the first occasion that an African American actor had portrayed the hero in a horror film. The tall, well-spoken Jones appeared in a handful of other B-grade horror movies such as Ganja & Hess (1973) and Vampires (1986), but none are remembered as well as his first on-screen role.

He passed away at only 52 years of age from heart failure.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: firehouse44

Trivia (5)

First African-American to have a starring role in a mainstream horror film - Night of the Living Dead (1968).
At the time of his death, Dr. Duane Jones was the head of the Theater Department at the State University of New York at Old Westbury.
His role in Night of the Living Dead (1968) was the first time in American cinema that a Black actor was cast in a lead role of a major motion picture that did not specify that the part had to be played by a black actor.
He never saw any of George A. Romero's other films, including Dawn of the Dead (1978) or Day of the Dead (1985).
In an audio interview conducted shortly before his untimely death in 1988, he recalled an occasion during which he met with a group of his theater students at a local café near the Old Westbury campus on Long Island, New York, when they were suddenly awestruck at the film then playing on TV. Duane turned around and noticed that the movie playing on the television in the café was none other than Night of the Living Dead (1968). His students were amazed to see their professor on screen, because Duane never usually made any mention of his movie roles to his students. After this occasion, the word spread that "Night of the Living Dead's" star hero was teaching at Old Westbury college on Long Island.

Personal Quotes (1)

"It never occurred to me that I was hired because I was black. But it did occur to me that because I was black it would give a different historic element to the film." (on being cast as Ben in "Night of the Living Dead")

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