A graduate of the Sorbonne, he studied acting in New York City. His role in Night of the Living Dead marked the first time a black actor was cast as a non-ethnic lead in a major motion picture in America, and the first time a black actor had a starring role in a horror film.
He taught acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As executive director of the Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art (RACCA), he promoted African-American theater. He spent his later years as a professor of theatre at the State University of New York at Old Westbury, where the Duane L. Jones Recital Hall is named for him.
He died of cardiopulmonary arrest in 1988. Up until his death, he proclaimed that he had never watched any of the other 'dead' films, nor any other George Romero picture, claiming that Night of the Living Dead was 'his' time.
|1968||Night of the Living Dead||Ben|
|1973||Ganja and Hess||Doctor Hess Green||Also released as "Blood Couple"|
|Fright House||Charles Harmon|
|1989||To Die For||Simon Little|