George Romero has been in the horror business since midnight movie landmark Night of the Living Dead opened 48 years ago. While some critics have straight up walked out of his films, his fans have followed his career with the dedication of, well, hungry zombies. While Romero has directed cult favorites that don’t involve brain eating, such as Knightriders and Bruiser, he will forever be known as the godfather of the zombie movie.
With Romero in the news for his views on The Walking Dead and with Halloween upon us, it seems like a good time to look at some facts about Romero and his lengthy career.
His first job in the film business was with Mister Rogers
Romero’s first job behind the camera wasn’t working on some B-movie monster flick, but a million miles from anything remotely related to horror: Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The young filmmaker had recently graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and landed a job filming a small segment in which Mister Rogers goes to the hospital for a tonsillectomy. Since both had Pittsburgh connections — Romero got his formal education there and Rogers worked in local television — some sort of collaboration was probably inevtiable. Romero has said everyone he knew from the area “started with Fred.”
While Romero described the legendary children’ TV host as incredibly nice and dedicated to his craft, Rogers did put his foot down when it came to zombies. “Originally I wanted to use Betty Aberlin [who played Lady Aberlin on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood] in the role of Judy in Night of the Living Dead,” Romero told Time magazine in 2010. “Fred said no to that.”