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Gunnar Hansen: Original Leatherface In ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ Dies At 68

Sun, November 8, 2015 11:14am EDT by Add first Comment
Gunnar Hansen Dead
Courtesy of Vortex/Getty Images

We’ve lost a legend of the horror film world. Gunnar Hansen, the man best known as the terrifying Leatherface in the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ has died at the young age of 68. May he rest in peace.

Gunnar Hansen tragically died at 68 on November 7, at his home in Maine from pancreatic cancer. The Icelandic-born actor delighted and horrified as the star of countless B movies, most famously portraying the sadistic killer Leatherface in the 1970s classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Gunnar may have been hidden behind a grotesque mask, but his face will always be recognizable for the joy he brought to his audiences. He will be dearly missed.

It’s remarkable that an actor can be so renowned for his first role. When The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in 1974, it made Gunnar a legend, and he reprised Leatherface in several forms throughout the years. In the legendary horror film, friends visiting their pal’s grandfather’s cabin are expecting a relaxing weekend of drinking and chilling, but are instead hunted by a chainsaw-wielding psychopath who has a quite interesting family, to be brief.

Gunnar starred in 20 films, all B movies and horror spoofs, like Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, and Apocalypse and the Beauty Queen. Despite his impressive film career, Gunnar considered acting a side project. He wrote extensively, penning two books: a nonfiction travel memoir, Islands at the Edge of Time, A journey to America’s Barrier Islands, and the nonfiction book Chain Saw Confidential,which focuses on the making of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He even served as an adjunct professor, though it’s not clear at which university.

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HollywoodLifers, please help us celebrate Gunnar’s remarkable life in the comments!

— Samantha Wilson