Today in Blerd History, we remember Duane Jones, born on this day in 1937. A graduate of the Sorbonne in Paris and a professor of English lit, Jones also acted and directed for the stage and served as artistic director at the Richard Allen Center in his native New York City. When cast as the lead in George Romero’s indie classic “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), Jones broke pop culture ground in the horror genre by portraying an African American as the hero. As the indefatigable “Ben,” Jones brought a craftsmanlike artistry to the film that would set it far apart from its B-Movie contemporaries.
While continuing to pursue academia and theater, Jones would become iconic in indie horror throughout the 1970s and ’80s, but his life was cut tragically short when, in 1988, he passed from heart failure at age 52.
To learn more about Jones’ onscreen work, see his profile @ IMDb: Duane Jones
Carrefour (Darby Jones) carries an unconscious Jessica Holland (Christine Gordon) in a scene from the 1943 horror film I Walked with a Zombie. Photo by Corbis