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Will MacMillan, who played the heroic leader of the band of holdouts fighting the military in George A. Romero’s 1973 epidemic thriller The Crazies, died Dec. 2 in Burbank, his family announced. He was 71.
MacMillan, who specialized in playing authority figures, also appeared in such films as The Enforcer (1976) opposite Clint Eastwood, Robert Zemeckis’ Used Cars (1980), Oliver Stone’s Salvador (1986) and Jonathan Kaplan’s Bad Girls (1994).
In Romero’s low-budget cult classic The Crazies, a military plane crashes in a small town in western Pennsylvania, releasing a biological weapon into the water supply. The virus, code-named “Trixie,” infects many of the local folks and turns them homicidal.
“It’s madness unleashed by human error!” the voice on the trailer exclaims.
MacMillan, credited as W.G. McMillan in the movie, played the firefighter David, a former Green Beret, who, with his pregnant girlfriend (Lane Carroll), battle to stay alive. The film was remade by director Breck Eisner in 2010, with Timothy Olyphant starring as David.
The veteran actor also had guest-starring stints on such TV shows as The West Wing, Matlock, Hunter, NYPD Blue, The Greatest American Hero, Little House on the Prairie and Three’s Company.
On the local stage, MacMillan co-starred in Brigadoon with Charles Durning in Pittsburgh, in 1776 with Gary Beach in Sacramento, Calif., and in The Unsinkable Molly Brown with Cathy Rigby in La Mirada, Calif.
A native of Steubenville, Ohio, MacMillan played offense and defense on the Weir High football team that won the 1960 state championship. He earned a BA from Washington & Jefferson College and a masters from Boston University.
MacMillan served as artistic director of the Psychic Repertory Theatre, which toured the country for children with special needs, from 1976-90, his family noted.
He directed and executive produced the independent film Destiny Trail (2015), which was written and produced by his daughter, Natalie, who also co-stars. His wife of 34 years, Laura, and their son, Jonathan, served as producers as well.
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