Marilyn Burns

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Marilyn Burns
Shawn Patrick, Marilyn Burns, Teri McMinn, William Vail, John Dugan, Ed Neal, Ed Guinn, Allen Danziger, photographed by Ryota Nakanishi (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).JPG
Marilyn Burns, Teri McMinn, William Vail, Ed Neal, John Dugan, Ed Guinn, Allen Danziger from the TCM panel at Days of the Dead Indianapolis 2012.
Born Marilyn Burns
Erie, Pennsylvania, United States
Occupation Actress
Years active 1970–present
Signature MarilynBurns.png

Marilyn Burns (born May 7, 1950), is an American actress, best known for her roles in Tobe Hooper's horror cult films The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and Eaten Alive (1977). She is also known for portraying Linda Kasabian in the three-time Emmy-nominated miniseries Helter Skelter (1976).

Early life and career[edit]

Burns was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, and raised in Houston, Texas. She always had an interest in the arts. During seventh grade, she appeared in a musical production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 1970, she made her first film appearance in the Robert Altman movie Brewster McCloud (1970). Burns attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated from there with a degree in Drama in 1971.

Burns was cast in Lovin' Molly (1974) but was replaced by Susan Sarandon. Burns stayed on as a stand-in for Saradon and Blythe Danner.[1]

She also had a small part in George Roy Hill's The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), where she helped cast some of the film's extras.[2]

Horror Roles[edit]

In Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Burns, in her first lead role, played Sally Hardesty, a teenager who travels with her brother and some friends to the cemetery where her grandfather is buried to investigate reports of grave vandalism, and then encounters an insane, murderous family including the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface, played by Gunnar Hansen. The film was a massive hit, both critically and commercially, becoming one of the most successful independent films ever at the time.[3]

After the success of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, she appeared in Hooper's next film Eaten Alive opposite Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones and Robert Englund.

Other works[edit]

In 1976, Burns had a role in the television miniseries Helter Skelter about the real-life trial of Charles Manson and several others. In the series, she played Linda Kasabian, a member of the Manson Family who was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony against the defendants. The miniseries was nominated for three Emmy awards.

Recalling her memories of working on Helter Skelter, Burns said: "It was a great experience. But nobody really wanted to touch it [due to the subject matter]. It was like, 'Who wants to be in that picture? Who's actually gonna do that picture?'"[2]

Burns had a few roles in the 1980s (Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981), Future Kill (1985)) and had an uncredited cameo as her character from the original film, Sally Hardesty, in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994). Burns also made a cameo appearance, playing Verna Carson, in the sequel Texas Chainsaw 3D,[4] which was released on January 4, 2013.

She currently lives in Texas and is active in community theatre.


Year Title Role
1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Sally Hardesty
1976 Helter Skelter Linda Kasabian
1977 Eaten Alive Faye
1981 Kiss Daddy Goodbye Nora Dennis
1984 Terror in the Aisles archival footage
1985 Future-Kill Dorothy Grim
1994 The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation Sally Hardesty
2012 BoneBoys Ruth
2013 Texas Chainsaw 3D Verna Carson/Sally Hardesty[5]


  1. ^ Alison Macor. Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids 30 Years of Film making in Austin, Texas University of Texas Press: Austin, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Lady of the Chainsaw: An Interview with Marilyn Burns - January 2004". The Terror Trap. 
  3. ^ Friedman 2007, p. 132
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Lionsgate releases official Press Release for Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3-D". July 19, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 

External links[edit]