The soap star was best known for playing Betty Eagleton in the ITV series from 1994 to 2015.
An obituary published by The Stage on Wednesday revealed that Tilbrook died in December 2019.
As the gossipy, sherry-loving Betty, Tilbrook was a much-loved fixture on Emmerdale and, following her departure in 2015, made a brief return to the show during a Christmas special, appearing via Skype.
A statement from the show said: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of our much loved colleague, Paula Tilbrook.
“Paula was at the heart of Emmerdale for many years and she will be greatly missed by all who worked with her and by the fans of her character, Betty.
“We have lost a great talent and a wonderful friend but she will forever live in the memories of those lucky enough to have known her.”
Born in Salford in 1930, Tilbrook made her television debut in 1969 in the sitcom The Dustbinmen and went on to appear in a number of Ken Dodds’ programmes for BBC Radio 2.
She made a number of appearances in Coronation Street under the guise of two different characters, Estelle Plimpton and Olive Taylor-Brown, in the late 70s and early 80s.
Tilbrook also starred in Mike Leigh’s Hard Labour, part of the Play for Today series, as well as Merseyside-set sitcom The Liver Birds and Tales of the Unexpected.
She also had stints in TV shows such as Last of the Summer Wine and Brookside and appeared in films including Alan Bennett’s A Private Function and Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Butterfly Kiss.