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Marilyn Eastman, known for her iconic role in the cult film Night of the Living Dead, has died, her family has said.
The 87-year-old is best known for her part in the horror film which has been dubbed as one of the most iconic zombie movies ever made.
The star, who played an undead in the movie itself, helped finance the George A Romero horror classic and even lent a hand in the makeup, prop, and sound departments.
Her son, John Eastman, told fans of the tragic news on Facebook.
He wrote: "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 [she] was planning personal appearances.”
She was vice president and creative director of Hardman Associates, a film production company, which teamed with Romero, director-screenwriter, writer John A Russor, and producer Russel Steiner.
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Eastman, with Karl Hardman, and the other mergers formed Image Ten Productions.
They cobbled together $6,000 to start the Night of the Flesh Eaters, which became a success after midnight screenings around the US in 1968. However, most of the profits eluded the investors when the distributor left the copyright bug off when the movie was retitled Night of the Living Dead.
The BFI writes the film became the manifesto of the modern horror film, and it soon became a cult classic and a must-see for horror fans.
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Eastman played Helen Cooper, who meets her in a Pennsylvania farmhouse cellar.
Her husband in the film was portrayed by Hardman.
She later starred in Santa Claws (1996), written and directed by Russo.
Eastman was born in Davenport, Iowa in 1933, before moving to Pittsburgh in the early 1960s.
She and Hardman were business and life partners until he passed away in 2007.
“Godspeed, Marilyn. Give our love to Karl,” the George A. Romero Foundation tweeted on Monday.
In addition to her sons John and Michael, survivors include five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
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