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George Kosana (1935 - 2016)

Getty Images / Wireimage / Photo by Bobby Bank

George Kosana (1935 - 2016)

George Kosana, the actor best known for playing the sheriff in the classic zombie movie “Night of the Living Dead,” died Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, according to multiple news sources. He was 81.

John A. Russo, who co-wrote the 1968 film with writer-director George Romero, announced his death Friday in a Facebook post.

“My close friend George Kosana, who played the sheriff in NOLD, has regrettably passed away after a long battle with various illnesses,” Russo said. “He will be greatly missed by me, by his fellow NOLD cast and crew members and by his many fans.”

Kosana played Sheriff McClelland in the Romero film. He also served as production manager and worked on the crew for the movie. Kosana also became an investor in the motion picture, putting up $600, Russo told The Hollywood Reporter. The movie was not liked by the critics but became a cult classic.

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Kosana may be remembered best for a scene in "Night of the Living Dead" in which a reporter asks the sheriff about the zombies, “Are they slow-moving, chief?”

"They're dead," the sheriff replies. "They're all messed up."

The actor reprised the role of Sheriff McClelland for the 2012 movie “Living Dead” and again in the film “My Uncle John Is a Zombie!” – which is in postproduction. He also appeared in Romero’s romantic comedy “There’s Always Vanilla” in 1971.

During an interview in 2011, Kosana said, "Every other zombie movie that's out there today, in my opinion, is either a spinoff or influenced by our film."

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