Bill Hinzman, the actor and director most famous as the very first zombie to shuffle into George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, passed away over the weekend after a battle with cancer. He was 75.
We all remember the first time we saw a Romero zombie in the form of Hinzman—a pale, thin man in a suit shuffling through a graveyard toward Barbra (Judith O'Dea) to eat her flesh. That first zombie attack launched a new chapter in horror cinema and helped make Romero an icon. Hinzman went down in horror history as "Zombie #1" or "Graveyard Zombie," and he continues to terrify kids watching Night of the Living Dead for the very first time even today.
But Hinzman's career didn't begin and end with Living Dead. He continued to collaborate with Romero, taking roles in There's Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch and The Crazies, and even went on to direct the horror film FleshEater in 1988.
Hinzman is also remembered as a frequent guest at horror conventions who was happy to give his time to fans, even appearing in costume on occasion. Dread Central's Uncle Creepy remembered him as "one of the nicest and most genuine people we've ever had the chance of knowing."
He never became a mainstream star, but for genre fans Hinzman will always have a special place of remembrance. Zombie #1, rest in peace.
(Via Dread Central).