Stephen King has led tributes to Night Of The Living Dead director George A Romero who has died at the age of 77.
Romero, whose classic horror films satirised society, died on Sunday after a brief battle with lung cancer, his manager said.
He said: “Sad to hear my favourite collaborator – and good old friend – George Romero has died. George, there will never be another like you.”
Manager Chris Roe said the “gentle giant” died listening to the score of one of his favourite films, The Quiet Man, with his wife Suzanne and their daughter Tina.
“He died peacefully in his sleep, following a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer, and leaves behind a loving family, many friends, and a film-making legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time,” he added.
Actor Mark Gatiss also paid tribute to the “charming, legendary zombie king” while director Robert Rodriguez hailed him as a “true legend” who “started it all”.
“Martin is one of my favourite horrors. An honour to have met him,” Gatiss added.
Night Of The Living Dead became a cult classic after its release in 1968 and spawned the series that includes Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead.
The original is credited as creating now universal rules for zombie films, that the undead lurch slowly and prosper through biting humans who then return as zombies.
But Romero, who was born in New York, also used the beasts as metaphors with societal ills such as racism and class division.