Gunnar Hansen, Texas Chainsaw Massacre Actor Who Played Leatherface, Dead at 68

Gunnar Hansen
Gunnar Hansen, the actor who played iconic horror villain Leatherface in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, died on Saturday, Nov. 7. REX Shutterstock

Hollywood has lost a legend. Gunnar Hansen, the actor who famously portrayed classic horror villain Leatherface in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, died at his home in Maine on Saturday, Nov. 7, according to his agent. He was 68.

The Icelandic-born actor made a name for himself in the industry portraying the disturbed killer in the 1974 horror flick, which has since been remade six time, most recently 2013’s Texas Chainsaw 3D.

According to the BBC, his agent, Mike Eisenstadt, called Leatherface “one of the most iconic evil figures in the history of cinema.” (The villain was named Leatherface because he wore a mask made of his victim's human skin).

Gunnar Hansen Leatherface Death
Courtesy Everett Collection

In the original storyline, a group of friends stumble upon a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old country home, and the main characters are then tortured and killed in gruesome fashion. Marilyn Burns, who played the lead character Sally Hardesty, died last August.

“We’re sad to hear that Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface, has passed away,” the British Film Institute tweeted Saturday.

“Sad news about the passing of Gunnar Hansen,” journalist Mark Kermode shared. “Interviewed him a few times and found him — and so many horror icons — to be utterly charming.”

“Farewell Gunnar Hansen,” British director Edgar Wright wrote. “May you spin with your chainsaw at magic hour forever more.”

Gunnar published a book, Chain Saw Confidential, in 2013, describing some of the behind-the-scene secrets about how the iconic horror film was made. Twenty years earlier, he also wrote and published Islands at the Edge of Time a book about his journey along the barrier islands traveling between Texas and North Carolina.

The actor is survived by his partner of 13 years, Betty Tower.

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