Texas Chainsaw Massacre's original Leatherface Gunnar Hansen dead at 68

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Nov 10, 2015, 4:22 PM EST (Updated)

Horror icon Gunnar Hansen, the imposing actor who starred in 1974's notorious slasher flick The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, died Saturday at the age of 68 at his home in Maine after a battle with pancreatic cancer.  

Born in Reykjavik, Iceland on March 4, 1947, Hansen's family relocated to Maine at the age of five where he was raised to respect and appreciate nature and the surrounding woods, an interest he would delve into later in life as an author of several non-fiction travel and naturalist books.  Revealing an aptitude for acting in college at the University of Texas, Hansen auditioned in 1973 for young director Tobe Hooper, who was casting for his new horror movie in Austin, and an evil legend was born.

Sporting a human flesh mask, a butcher's apron and a screaming chainsaw, Hansen became Leatherface, the slow-witted but sadistic slaughterer of the in-bred Sawyer clan, spawning decades of nightmares and mortal fears in moviegoers and horror fans around the world.

The gentle giant appeared in over 20 low-budget and direct-to-video films including Hellblock 13, Freakshow, Apocalypse and the Beauty Queen,Wolfsbayne, Swarm of the Snakehead Gunner, The Deepening, and the horror parody Hollywood ChainSaw Hookers.

In 2013, his revealing memoir Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie was published, detailing the making of the cult horror classic.

(Via Den of Geek)