Filmmaking great George Romero has died at age 77.
Romero’s longtime producing partner Peter Grunwald confirmed the news to the Los Angeles Times Sunday. According to a statement, Romero died in his sleep after “a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer.”
Per a statement from Romero’s manager Chris Roe given to Variety, Romero died listening to the score to the 1952 film “The Quiet Man.” At his side were Suzanne Desrocher Romero, his wife of nearly six years, and daughter Tina. He is also survived by a son, Andrew.
Roe said that Romero “leaves behind a loving family, many friends, and a filmmaking legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time.”
Romero most famously directed and co-wrote 1968′s iconic zombie film “Night of the Living Dead.” The film was made on a budget of $114,000, and would go on to gross $30 million worldwide. It has since become a cornerstone in popular horror culture and is considered a forbearer for modern cinematic depictions of zombies.
He returned to the horror genre with “Dawn of the Dead” in 1978 and “Day of the Dead” in 1985. Later on, he created “Land of the Dead” in 2005, “Diary of the Dead” in 2007, and, in 2009, “George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead.”
Born in the Bronx, New York, in 1940 to a Cuban father and Lithuanian-American mother, Romero attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He graduated in 1960 and began his career in film, even shooting a segment for “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
In a 2016 interview with Indiewire, Romero reflected on the legacy of “Night of the Living Dead.”
“When we made the film, I thought that we were talking about miscommunication — people who, even when faced with impossible and improbable situations, still argue among themselves about petty things rather than facing the problem,” he said. “I find that this is still going on today. That’s all I really care about.”