In continuing the sad news this week has brought, Marilyn Eastman, star of the original Night of the Living Dead has died on August 22nd. She was 87.
The news was released by her son, John Eastman on social media.
She produced and played Helen Cooper in George A. Romero’s classic film, Night of the Living Dead in 1968. Eastman only appeared in two other films and one television role throughout her life. NOTLD is where she made her mark and how she will be remembered most by her fans.
During the mid-1960s, she worked and was vice-president of the Pittsburgh based industrial film company, Hardman Associates, Inc. where she was business partners with Karl Hardman. Hardman and Eastman joined Romero in a production company called Image Ten and they all ended up producing NOTLD together.
Eastman was not only a producer and actress in that classic film. She also worked on the makeup, props, and helped to edit the screenplay for the film. During her career, she went on to film several industrial films, commercials, and even worked in the theater.
You can read the full statement from her son John on social media on Monday:
I’m very sad to announce the passing of my mother, MARILYN EASTMAN on 8/22/21 in Tampa, Florida. 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.
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.
Even though Marilyn Eastman didn’t do a whole lot in the business, what she did do turned out to be more powerful than many who have hundreds of roles. She will always be remembered by her legions of fans and myself as Helen Cooper from Romero’s classic film, ’nuff said.
Thoughts and prayers go out to Marilyn Eastman’s family and friends during this difficult time. Go in peace and sleep forever well.
R.I.P. Marilyn Eastman: Born December 17, 1933 – Died August 22, 2021