Marilyn Burns

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Marilyn Burns
Marilyn Burns (cropped).JPG
Burns in 2012
Mary Lynn Ann Burns

(1949-05-07)May 7, 1949
DiedAugust 5, 2014(2014-08-05) (aged 65)
Alma materUniversity of Texas at Austin
Years active1970–1994, 2011–2014
Marilyn Burns signature.svg

Marilyn Burns (born Mary Lynn Ann Burns; May 7, 1949 – August 5, 2014) was an American actress. While in high school, Burns made her film debut as a tour guide in Robert Altman's experimental comedy film Brewster McCloud (1970), followed by minor appearances in low-budget independent films where her scenes were ultimately cut such as Sidney Lumet's drama film Lovin' Molly (1974).

Burns was known for her collaborations with filmmaker Tobe Hooper, having appeared in two of his films. In 1974, she found box-office success with her leading role as Sally Hardesty in Hooper's exploitation horror film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), a role she later reprised in Kim Henkel's sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994).

Her other film roles include Faye in another Hooper film entitled Eaten Alive (1977), Dorothy Grim in Future-Kill (1985), and Verna in Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013). She is also known for portraying Linda Kasabian in the television film Helter Skelter (1976) which garnered three Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

Life and career[edit]

Burns was born in Erie, Pennsylvania,[1] and raised in Houston, Texas. In 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 Sarandon and Blythe Danner.[2]

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.[3]

In Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Burns, in her first lead role, portrayed the heroine 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, cannibalistic family including the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface. The film was a massive hit, becoming one of the most successful independent films ever at the time.[4]

In 1976, Burns had a role in the television miniseries Helter Skelter about the real-life trial of Charles Manson and his "family". 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?'"[3] Her next role was Faye in the horror film Eaten Alive, which was helmed by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre director Tobe Hooper. She starred alongside Robert Englund.

Burns subsequently starred in the films Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981) and Future-Kill (1985). In 1994, Burns briefly reprised her role as Sally Hardesty in the sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994). Burns also made a cameo appearance as Verna Carson in the sequel Texas Chainsaw 3D,[5] which was released on January 4, 2013. However aside from these roles and occasional appearances at horror conventions Burns lived a relatively quiet life out of the spotlight in the Houston area during her later years.[6]


Burns died in her sleep at the age of 65 on August 5, 2014. She was found in her Houston home by her brother Bill; the cause was an apparent heart attack, although not specified.[7]



Year Title Role Notes
1970 Brewster McCloud Tour Guide
1974 Lovin' Molly Sarah Peters / Molly Taylor Replaced by Susan Sarandon, remained as a stand-in for Sarandon and Blythe Danner
1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Sally Hardesty
1975 The Great Waldo Pepper Supporting Uncredited
1976 Helter Skelter Linda Kasabian
1977 Eaten Alive Faye
1978 Brutes and Savages Supporting
1981 Kiss Daddy Goodbye Nora Dennis
1984 California Cowboys Carmen
1985 Future-Kill Dorothy Grim
1994 Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation Patient on Gurney / Sally Hardesty Uncredited
2000 American Psycho Sally Hardesty Archive footage, uncredited
2012 Butcher Boys Ruth
2013 Texas Chainsaw 3D Verna Carson / Sally Hardesty[8]
2014 Sacrament Beulah Standifer
2015 Mindflip Marilyn Hardesty
2015 In a Madman's World Mrs. Hill


Year Title Role Notes
1998 Michael Hayes Sally Episode: "Under Color of Law"


  1. ^ "Marilyn Burns, 'Chainsaw' Actress, Dies at 65". The New York Times. 2014-08-06. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  2. ^ Alison Macor. Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids 30 Years of Film making in Austin, Texas University of Texas Press: Austin, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Lady of the Chainsaw: An Interview with Marilyn Burns". The Terror Trap. January 2004. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  4. ^ Friedman 2007, p. 132
  5. ^ "Marilyn Burns Returns for 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D!'". January 19, 2011. Archived from the original on January 22, 2015. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  6. ^ Marilyn Burns profile,; accessed August 9, 2015.
  7. ^ David, Colker (2014-08-08). "Marilyn Burns dies at 65; starred in 'Texas Chain Saw Massacre'". Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  8. ^ "Lionsgate releases official Press Release for Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3-D". July 19, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011.

External links[edit]