Tributes for Marilyn Eastman, 'Night of the Living Dead' Star, Dead at 87

Tributes are pouring in for veteran Hollywood figure Marilyn Eastman who has died. She was 87 years old.

Perhaps best known for starring in the 1968 zombie classic Night of the Living Dead, the star's death was confirmed on Facebook by her son, John Eastman.

Eastman played Helen Cooper in the renowned George A. Romero film and her son said she had a great fondness for the role and the fans she gained as a result.

Apart from her acting career, Eastman was also was vice president of Pittsburgh-based industrial film firm, Hardman Associates, Inc. She was also involved in the production company, Image Ten.

Marilyn Eastman
A still from the 1968 zombie classic "Night of the Living Dead" featuring the late Marilyn Eastman. Universal

John Eastman confirmed that his mother died in Tampa, Florida on August 22.

"I'm very sad to announce the passing of my mother, MARILYN EASTMAN on 8/22/21 in Tampa, Florida," her son wrote in the Facebook announcement.

"Marilyn Marie Johnson was born in Davenport, Iowa on December 17th, 1933. My mother moved to Pittsburgh in the early 60's and eventually joined Karl Hardman at Hardman Associates. Later in life Marilyn and Karl became business and life partners until Karl's passing in 2007."

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Her son continued: "In addition to her iconic role as Helen Cooper in the 1968 Horror Classic 'Night of the Living Dead' Marilyn was a Stage, Television and Radio performer as well as a writer and producer. More importantly, she was a hard working single mother who raised my brother and I on her own.

"I cannot overstate how much she enjoyed the affection and attention shown to her by countless NOLD fans, and up until several weeks ago, was planning personal appearances. She is survived by my brother Michael and I, 5 Grandchildren and 8 Great Grandchildren. Marilyn Eastman died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 87. It was her desire to return to Pittsburgh and those plans are to be announced at a later date."

The George A. Romero Foundation also released a statement on Eastman's passing.

"It is with great sadness that we can confirm the passing of Marilyn Eastman on 8/22/21. Please join us in wishing her family peace at this painful time. Godspeed, Marilyn," it tweeted.

It is with great sadness that we can confirm the passing of Marilyn Eastman on 8/22/21. Please join us in wishing her family peace at this painful time.
Godspeed, Marilyn. Give our love to Karl. 💔 pic.twitter.com/qBidxsEIW3

— The George A. Romero Foundation (@theGARFofficial) August 23, 2021

Horror film magazine Fangoria tweeted: "We're sad to hear of the passing of Marilyn Eastman, who not only played Helen Cooper in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD but, as a founding member of Image Ten, helped with prop and makeup duties, and even played one of the film's memorable zombies. RIP."

We’re sad to hear of the passing of Marilyn Eastman, who not only played Helen Cooper in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD but, as a founding member of Image Ten, helped with prop and makeup duties, and even played one of the film’s memorable zombies. RIP. pic.twitter.com/avBtBmr9PF

— FANGORIA (@FANGORIA) August 23, 2021

John Squires of Bloody Disgusting also shared a tribute to Eastman whom he called a "key figure to a horror classic."

You can't talk about Night of the Living Dead without talking about Marilyn Eastman, who was hugely integral to the film's production. She not only played Helen Cooper, but also worked behind the scenes in the props, makeup and sound departments. A key figure to a horror classic. https://t.co/pl3wOtuxB8

— John Squires (@FreddyInSpace) August 23, 2021

"You can't talk about Night of the Living Dead without talking about Marilyn Eastman, who was hugely integral to the film's production. She not only played Helen Cooper, but also worked behind the scenes in the props, makeup and sound departments. A key figure to a horror classic."