Duane Jones (Duane L. Jones)

Duane Jones

Duane Jones (February 2, 1937 – July 22, 1988) was an American actor, best known for his leading role as Ben in the 1968 horror film Night of the Living Dead. He was director of the Maguire Theater at the State University of New York at Old Westbury, and the artistic director of the Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art in Manhattan. He is not to be confused with another actor of the same name, also known as Barron Winchester. Duane Jones was born on February 2, 1937. His mother was Mildred Gordon Jones and he had a sister, Marva (later Marva Brooks) and a brother, Henry. A graduate of the Sorbonne, he studied acting in New York City. His role in 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead marked the first time an African-American actor was cast as the star of a horror film. At the time, casting a black man as the hero of a film where all the other characters were white was potentially controversial. While some saw the casting as significant, the director of the film states “Jones simply gave the best audition.” He was executive director of the Black Theater Alliance, a federation of theater companies, from 1976-81. He taught acting styles at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As executive director of the Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art (RACCA), he promoted African-American theater. After leaving the American Academy of Dramatic Arts he taught a select group of students privately in Manhattan, by invitation only. His hand-selected students were of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Duane Jones died of cardiopulmonary arrest at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, Long Island, New York on July 22, 1988, aged 51.

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  • February, 02, 1937
  • USA
  • New York, New York


  • July, 22, 1988
  • USA
  • Mineola, New York

Cause of Death

  • cardiopulmonary arrest


  • Cremated

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