LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 06: (EDITOR'S NOTE: image has been shot in black and white. Color version not available.) Actor Scott Wilson attends the 50th anniversary screening of "In the Heat of the Night" during the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival on April 6, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. 26657_003 (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TCM)
Photo: Rodney Ho/Radio & TV Talk
Photo: Rodney Ho/Radio & TV Talk

Georgia native Scott Wilson (Hershel, ‘The Walking Dead’) is dead at age 76

Originally posted Saturday, October 6, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Georgia native Scott Wilson, best known as avuncular Hershel Greene on “The Walking Dead” seasons two through four, has passed from complications related to leukemia, according to TMZ, which confirmed the news with a Wilson rep

He was 76.

Wilson, who grew up in Atlanta but left for Hollywood in 1961, is scheduled to show up for season nine, along with two other past figures, probably in relation to Andrew Lincoln character Rick Grimes’ pending departure. Season nine returns on Sunday, October 7. 

He has been a routine presence at comic cons nationwide over the years and was scheduled to appear later this month at the Walker Stalker convention in Atlanta. 
Before “The Walking Dead,” he was a character actor with more than 50 credits to his name. 

In 1967, he played a murder suspect in his first film “In the Heat of the Night” starring Rod Steigerand Sidney Poitier. He played a character who murdered Robert Redford’s Jay Gatsby in 1974. He received a Golden Globe nomination in 1980 for his supporting role in “The Ninth Configuration.” He was the chaplain in Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon’s “Dead Man Walking” in 1995. He was a victim of Charlize Theron’s serial killer in 2003’s “Monster.”

He has done films in South Korea, Japan and Spain. He did a movie based on a play John Paul II wrote. He’s played governors, generals and the president of the United States.

“The Walking Dead” made him a recognizable actor for millions of fans. 

“I’ve accomplished more than I would have hoped to have accomplished,” he said to me in 2011. “I don’t want to be a big movie star. I can be someone who walks the streets and not get mobbed. Yet I want to be as fine an actor as I can be. I am still striving for that – to be as good as I can be.”

His most recent film credit was in the 2017 film “Hostiles,” a Western starring Christian Bale.

RELATED: My 2011 interview with Wilson

RELATED: Meeting Wilson at UGA in 2014

RELATED: Wilson speaks to me about “Hostiles” in 2017

Wilson’s character Hershel arrived on the show season two as a farmer and vet who saved Carl’s life, then allowed Rick’s crew to stay at his place until it was over run by zombies.

Over time, he became a father figure to Rick. He was the conscience for the group, the voice of reason in the face of gruesome deaths and an uncertain future for those who were still alive.

Hershel was killed in gruesome, shocking fashion season four. Deranged leader the Governor, in anger, beheaded Hershel in front of his two daughters, setting off a furious battle with Rick’s crew.

"I went out in grand fashion," Wilson told me in 2014. 

The scene became so iconic, one of Wilson’s prop heads landed at the Smithsonian museum in D.C., where Archie Bunker’s chair and the Fonz’s jacket resides.

James Frazier, who runs the Walker Stalker convention, said “Scott is a good soul and someone that people are drawn towards. There is something comforting about Scott because he genuinely cares about how everyone is doing and always had a wise word or experience to share because he wanted to help in any way he can. I’m going to miss him dearly.”

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.