Marilyn Burns, one of the original “scream queens,” who starred in Tobe Hooper’s original 1974 “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” died Tuesday in Texas. She was 65 and was found dead in her home near Houston.
“Texas Chainsaw” was her first lead role; she played teenager Sally Hardesty, who goes with her brother and friends to the cemetery where her grandfather is buried and ends up as the only survivor of an encounter with the insane family led by chainsaw-wielding Leatherface.
Burns was born in Erie, Penn., raised in Texas and had small parts in films including Robert Altman’s “Brewster McCloud” while she was still in high school as well as George Roy Hill’s “The Great Waldo Pepper.”
But she was most known for horror films including Hooper’s 1977 “Eaten Alive,” about an insane hotel proprietor who feeds his guests to his pet alligator. Among her other films were “Kiss Daddy Goodbye” and “Future-Kill.”
In 1976 she appeared in TV movie “Helter Skelter” as Charles Manson follower Linda Kasabian. She had a cameo in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation” and was seen in her original role in archival footage in “Texas Chainsaw 3D.”
She talked to Terror Trap in 2004 about her experience shooting the gruesome “Chainsaw”: “Afterwards, I was just so grateful it was over. I probably was the happiest girl alive. During it, I was 100% focused and I probably wasn’t a joy to be around. It was an interesting shoot for sure.”