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Her family announced her death Thursday with a Facebook message that read: “To the friends and fans of our beloved Helen, Helen passed away last night. Her pain has ended but her fierce spirit lives on.” Her cause of death was not disclosed.
Loved ones also shared a tribute video to social media, which featured photos of Slayton-Hughes throughout her career and thanked her “for the love and laughter.”
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in drama from Syracuse University and a master’s in communications from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, she spent the next 40 years acting on stage in community theater. Slayton-Hughes, who raised four children, performed in more than 200 plays and musicals.
After she recurred on two episodes of Nash Bridges that aired in 2000, she moved to Los Angeles at 70 to further her career. The gamble paid off, and she went on to appear on numerous television shows, including The Drew Carey Show, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Malcolm in the Middle, That’s So Raven, Arrested Development, Desperate Housewives, Pretty Little Liars, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl.
Her film roles included Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Veronica Mars (2014) and Netflix’s He’s All That (2021). Her most recent credit was in the movie The Curse of Bridge Hollow opposite Marlon Wayans and Kelly Rowland, which hit Netflix in October.
Slayton-Hughes is perhaps best known for playing Ethel Bevers on the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation from 2011-15. Aubrey Plaza, who played April Ludgate on the series, shared a sweet tribute message on Instagram: “It was always Ethel Beavers. Always. Rest in Peace Helen. You were so loved and admired and I wanna be you when I grow up.”
On the Parks and Recreation Instagram, the show paid tribute to the actress by posting, “Rest in peace, Helen Slayton-Hughes. Ethel Beavers will forever be in our hearts.”
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