'Night of the Living Dead' Actress Marilyn Eastman Dies at 87
Marilyn Eastman, the actress who appeared as doomed Helen Cooper in the horror classic "Night of the Living Dead" — and who helped finance it in real life — died in her sleep Sunday at her Tampa, Florida, home. She was 87.
THR reported Eastman's death. She had been in good health according to her son John Eastman, who said on Facebook that his mother had been planning personal appearances.
Eastman was born December 17, 1933. In Pittsburgh, she teamed up with Karl Hardman of Hardman Associates. Together, the business and romantic partners worked with film visionary George A. Romero to bring "Night of the Living Dead" to fruition in 1968. They raised $6,000 to get the film started, but once it was released it became a genre-defining sensation at the box office.
Along with helping to get the film made, Eastman played a woman fated to die at the hands of zombies — and also a bug-eating zombie. She helped out with props, sound, and makeup as well.
"Dead" was her film debut after having appeared on TV's "Perry Mason" in a small role years before. After "Dead," she only worked on two more films — "Houseguest" (1995) and "Santa Claws" (1996) — but she was a welcome face at fan events and autograph shows.
Eastman is survived by her sons, John and Michael, her five grandchildren, and her eight great-grandchildren.