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Duane L. Jones (New York, February 2, 1937 – Long Island, July 22, 1988) was an American actor known for his leading role as Ben in the horror film of 1968 Night of the Living Dead, director of the Maguire Theater at the State University of New York at Old Westbury, and artistic director of the Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art (RACCA) in Manhattan.
Jones next to Judith O’Dea in Night of the living dead.
Jones was born on February 2, 1937 in New York, United States, son of Mildred Gordon Jones and brother of Marva Brooks and Henry L. Jones, and studied acting after graduating from the University of Paris.
His role in the 1968 film, The Night of the Living Dead, was the first time that a black person plays the role of protagonist in a horror movie. At that time choosing a black man as the protagonist of a movie where the rest of the characters were white was considered potentially controversial. While some considered this election something to consider, the director of the film clarified that “Jones just made the best audition for the role”.
He taught acting classes at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As executive director of the Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art (RACCA) he drove African-American theater. After leaving the American Academy of Dramatic Arts he taught private classes in Manhattan to previously invited students. The students I chose came from all types of ethnic groups.
Jones died of cardiorespiratory arrest at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, Long Island, on July 22, 1988, at the age of 51.
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