The actress played Helen Cooper in George Romero's horror classic.

Night of the Living Dead actress Marilyn Eastman has died at the age of 87. Eastman's passing was announced on Facebook by her son, John, who revealed that she had died in her sleep on Sunday.

In director George Romero's 1968 horror classic, Eastman played the character of Helen Cooper, one of several people who attempt to survive the zombie apocalypse in a remote farmhouse. She was also a founder of Image Ten Inc., the company which produced the film.

Marilyn Eastman in 1968 horror classic "Night of the Living Dead."
| Credit: Alamy Stock

Eastman's character in Night of the Living Dead survives for most of the movie but is ultimately killed by her reanimated daughter Karen, played by Kyra Schon. This harrowing death helped secure the terrifying reputation and box office success of the movie. The film would help usher in a new wave of brutal, unsparing big screen horror and inspire five Romero-directed sequels as well as countless other zombie films and TV show.

"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," Eastman's son wrote on Facebook. "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."

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