(Updated with SAG statement) Scott Wilson, who was a key member of the cast of The Walking Dead before exiting the show in shocking fashion, has died. He was 76 and his death was announced today on the Walking Dead comic official Twitter account.
Wilson played the beloved Hershel Greene on TWD from 2011-2014.
In the series, he was a veterinarian who kept a barn full of walkers, hoping to find a cure. He later lost his leg and then his life to the sword of the Governor. While his youngest daughter Beth was also killed off on the series, the Lauren Cohan-portrayed Maggie Greene, now Maggie Rhee in marriage, is one of the leaders of the Survivors. On the show, Maggie named the her son after her father Hershel.
News of Wilson’s death came just over an hour after it was announced tonight at the Walking Dead panel at New York Comic Con that the actor would be among past cast members appearing in the AMC show’s ninth season, which debuts tomorrow. Wilson’s return to TWD after his character’s death four years ago had already been filmed, according to source close to the series based on Robert Kirkman’s comics.
“Scott will always be remembered as a great actor and we all feel fortunate to have known him as an even better person,” AMC said in a statement Saturday. “The character he embodied on The Walking Dead, Hershel, lived at the emotional core of the show. Like Scott in our lives, Hershel was a character whose actions continue to inform our character’s choices to this day. Our hearts go out to his wife, his family, friends and to the millions of fans who loved him. Scott will be missed.”
Wilson was also a 50-year SAG-Aftra member and served on the national and Hollywood Division boards of Screen Actors Guild. SAG presented Wilson with the Ralph Morgan Award in 2007, an honor given for distinguished service.
“Scott was an extraordinary actor and a dedicated union activist whose efforts during the union’s Global Rule One campaign helped secure important provisions for actors working internationally on union contracts. His performance as Hershel on The Walking Dead was an emotional core of that show, ” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “Scott’s career embodies the inscription on his Ralph Morgan Award: ‘devotion to the cause of actors, courage to fight for the right, and sacrifice of self for others.’ Our hearts go out to his wife, family and friends.”
Born in Georgia, Wilson had a long career in Hollywood. Among his roles: he played Las Vegas casino owner Sam Braun on CSI, was in the first season of Amazon’s Bosch, and also played the neighbor in the three Shiloh family films released in 1996, 1999 and 2006.
Wilson also had a role in The Great Gatsby (1974) and was murder suspect Harvey Oberst in his first feature, the Academy Award Best Picture Winner In the Heat of the Night (1967). Wilson also played murderer Dick Hickock in the film adaptation of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (1967). He later appeared as Captain Billy Cutshaw in the film The Ninth Configuration (1980), receiving a Golden Globe supporting actor nomination for the role.
William Delano Wilson was born in Atlanta on March 29, 1942. He graduated high school in 1960 and was awarded an athletic scholarship to Georgia’s Southern Polytechnic State University. He left school and hitchhiked to Los Angeles. After five lean years filled with acting classes and local plays, he won the role in In the Heat of the Night.
Wilson is survived by his wife, Heavenly, an artist and attorney, and other family. No memorial plans have been announced.