Eda Zahl, an actress who appeared on stages in Washington and elsewhere during the 1960s and ’70s, and who assisted her husband during his career with the National Geographic Society, died Oct. 25 at her home in Greenwich, Conn. She was 86.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said her daughter-in-law, Mary Zahl. Mrs. Zahl was a longtime District resident before retiring to Connecticut in 1980.

Eda Seasongood Field was born in Long Branch, N.J. In 1946, she married Paul A. Zahl, who became the National Geographic Society’s senior natural scientist. Mrs. Zahl accompanied her husband on work-related travel around the world and helped edit his numerous publications.

She appeared on a National Geographic magazine cover in 1959, her family said, in a photograph taken by her husband that showed her examining coral collected from reefs near the Hawaiian islands.

As an actress, Mrs. Zahl performed on Broadway and in Washington area theaters including the Kennedy Center and Theatre Lobby. In the 1960s, she hosted a locally broadcast television program about issues in science. She also worked in radio and advertising and recorded books on tape for the blind.

Mrs. Zahl was a past member of the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist in Georgetown. Until recently, she edited the newsletter of the Wagner Society of America.

Her husband died in 1985. Survivors include two children, Eda K. Zahl of Los Angeles and the Rev. Paul F.M. Zahl of Winter Garden, Fla.; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

— Emily Langer