George Kosana, who played Sheriff McClelland in George A. Romero’s zombie classic Night of the Living Dead, has died. He was 81. His longtime friend John Russo, who co-wrote the seminal black-and-white film, wrote on Facebook that Kosana died Friday and had been battling various illnesses.

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Walter Reade

Kosana, who played the same role in 2012’s Living Dead and the upcoming My Uncle John Is a Zombie! — which Russo wrote and co-directed and is in postproduction — was a regular on the horror convention circuit. The Pennsylvania native also was production manager on Night of the Living Dead, and his few other credits include There’s Always Vanilla, Romero’s 1971 follow-up to NOLD. He also appeared in The Booby Hatch (1976), which Russo co-wrote and co-directed, and Incest Death Squad (2009), written and co-helmed by Russo.

In Night of the Living Dead, Kosana’s sheriff was asked by a reporter covering the zombie crisis, “Are they slow-moving, Chief?” He quotably replied: “Yeah, they’re dead. They’re all messed up.”