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NC's first film commissioner dies

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RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- Bill Arnold, North Carolina's first film commissioner, has died at his Raleigh home. He was 75.

State Department of Commerce public relations manager Margo Metzger said Arnold died Sunday. The cause of death wasn't known.

Arnold was appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt in 1980 to head a new office designed to bring movies and television productions to North Carolina. During Arnold's 26 years, De Laurentiis Entertainment Studios, now EUE/Screen Gems Studios, opened in Wilmington.

Among the movies produced in North Carolina during Arnold's tenure are "The Color Purple," "Dirty Dancing," "Bull Durham" and "Days of Thunder." The television series "Dawson's Creek," and its spinoff, "One Tree Hill," were also shot during Arnold's time.

A funeral is scheduled for Wednesday in Raleigh, with a graveside service Thursday in Greenville.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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BILL ARNOLD

Wow. Bill Arnold gone. Bill was a pioneer in a new industry for NC, a gentleman and a scholar. We were classmates at ECU. What he did is not so important at this point, although he accomplished much. Who and what he was is far more important. He was a good man, and had a heart of gold. Many friends and admirers will mourn his passing. God rest his soul, and God bless his family and his memory. Verne Strickland, Wilmington, NC.