Acting veteran Scott Wilson, who appeared In The Heat of the Night in 1967, and more recently enjoyed success in hit TV drama The Walking Dead, has died aged 76 after a battle with cancer.

He starred in The Walking Dead between 2011 and 2014, playing farmer Hershel Greene before the character was killed off in season four.

The official Twitter account for the show broke the news early on Sunday morning, saying, "We are deeply saddened to report that Scott Wilson, the incredible actor who played Hershel on #TheWalkingDead, has passed away at the age of 76. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in paradise, Scott. We love you!"

AMC, the makers of The Walking Dead, said in a statement, "Scott will always be remembered as a great actor and we all feel fortunate to have known him as an even better person," 

"The character he embodied on The Walking Dead, Hershel, lived at the emotional core of the show. Like Scott in our lives, Hershel was a character whose actions continue to inform our characters’ choices to this day. Our hearts go out to his wife, family, friends and to the millions of fans who loved him. Scott will be missed."

Born in Atlanta in 1942, he had early success in two key 1967 movies. He played murder suspect Harvey Oberst in race drama In the Heat of the Night, and murderer Richard Hickock opposite Robert Blake in Richard Brooks’ film adaptation of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

He also appeared in 1974’s The Great Gatsby and received a Golden Globe nomination in 1980 in the supporting actor category as Captain Billy Cutshaw in the thriller The Ninth Configuration.