George Andrew Romero was born on February 4, 1940 in New York, NY, U.S., is an American-Canadian film director, screenwriter, and editor best known for his gruesome and satirical horror films about a hypothetical zombie apocalypse. He is nicknamed “Grandfather of the Zombie.”
Romero was born to father of Castilian Spanish parentage and a Lithuanian-American mother. His father worked as a commercial artist. Romero attended Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating in 1960, he began his career shooting short films and commercials. One of his early commercial films, a segment for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in which Mr. Rogers underwent a tonsillectomy, inspired Romero to go into the horror film business.
He, along with nine friends, formed Image Ten Productions in the late 1960s, and produced Night of the Living Dead (1968). The movie, directed by Romero and co-written with John A. Russo, became a cult classic and a defining moment for modern horror cinema.
Three films that followed were less popular: There’s Always Vanilla (1971), Jack’s Wife / Season of the Witch (1972) and The Crazies (1973) were not as well received as Night of the Living Dead or some of his later work. The Crazies, dealing with a bio spill that induces an epidemic of homicidal madness, and the critically acclaimed arthouse success Martin (1977), a film that deals with the vampire myth, were the two well-known films from this period. Like many of his films, they were shot in or around Pittsburgh.
In 1978, Romero returned to the zombie genre with Dawn of the Dead (1978). Shot on a budget of just $500,000, the film earned over $55 million worldwide and was named one of the top cult films by Entertainment Weekly in 2003. Romero made a third entry in his “Dead Series” with Day of the Dead (1985).
Romero is currently separated from his wife, Christine Forrest, whom he met on the set of Season of the Witch. They have two children together. Romero became a Canadian Citizen in 2009.
Romero ranked his top ten films of all time for the 2002 Sight & Sound Greatest Films Poll (2002). They are The Brothers Karamazov, Casablanca, Dr. Strangelove, High Noon, King Solomon’s Mines, North by Northwest, The Quiet Man, Repulsion, Touch of Evil and The Tales of Hoffman. Romero listed the films in alphabetical order, with special placement given to The Tales of Hoffman, which he cites as “my favourite film of all time; the movie that made me want to make movies.”
On October 27, 2009, Romero was honored with the Mastermind Award at Spike TV’s Scream 2009. The tribute was presented by longtime Romero fan Quentin Tarantino, who stated in his speech that the “A” in George A. Romero stood for “A fucking genius.”
In 2010, writer and actor Mark Gatiss interviewed Romero for his BBC documentary series A History of Horror, in which he appears in the third episode.