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George Romero, 'Night of the Living Dead' director, dies at age 77

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Director George Romero died in his sleep following a battle with lung cancer, his manager said. (Source: AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) Director George Romero died in his sleep following a battle with lung cancer, his manager said. (Source: AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

(RNN) - A horror film pioneer credited with launching the zombie film genre in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead, director George Romero died Sunday at age 77,  Romero's manager, Chris Roe, has confirmed.

Roe said the director died listening to the score of The Quiet Man, one of his favorite films, with his wife, Suzanne, and daughter, Tina, by his side. Roe said Romero died after battling lung cancer. 

Shot in Pittsburgh with a budget of  just over $100,000 in 1968, Romero's campy, black-and-white Night of the Living Dead has become a cult classic and an inspiration for horror film directors. It grossed around $30 million worldwide (equal to around $210 million in 2017), according to the Internet Movie Database

In an interview with Bravo TV in 2004, Romero said a moment after the film's final edit, he and the crew threw the reels into a truck and drove from Pittsburgh to New York City hoping to get a screening that night at any theater that would take the movie. 

Upon news of his death, Romero's fellow film and TV legends paid tribute on social media. 

Romero's fans joined the memorial, including iconic images from his groundbreaking film. 

In a 2013 interview with The Telegraph, Romero said he was no fan of the recent spate of zombie films and shows, calling The Walking Dead "a soap opera with a zombie occasionally," but he said he enjoyed Edgar Wright's 2004 parody, Shaun of the Dead. 

After the success of Night of the Living Dead, Romero made a string of non-zombie flicks before returning to the genre in Dawn of the Dead in 1978 and Day of the Dead in 1985. Romero's final work was a trilogy of zombie films; he wrote and directed Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead in the 2000s. 

Copyright 2017 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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