Marilyn Burns passed away Tuesday from natural causes, she was 64 years old. Best known for her role as Sally Hardesty in the 1974 cult horror film "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and as former Charles Manson family member Linda Kasabian in the mini-series "Helter Skelter". Burns was a stage trained actress who devoted her life to local theater. Her role in TCM has made her into the quintessential "Scream Queen" and has developed a cult following amongst horror fans.
Born on July 5, 1950 in Erie, Pennsylvania but grew up in Houston, Texas. She was attending the University of Texas and worked for the Texas Film Commision when she attended a cast call for a low budget thriller that was written and directed by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hopper. The name of this movie was "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and the rest is history. TCM became a huge horror cult film that became a popular drive-in and later a video store staple.
Marilyn Burns would suffer for her art as the production schedule was grueling as the film. She would have to participate in marathon filming sessions in the sweltering Texas heat for the role of Sally Hardesty, one surviving member of a group of foolish youngster who go nosing around the Sawyer residence. In 1976, Burns would participate in two other cult classics: The television mini-series "Helter Skelter" and Henkel and Hooper's follow up to TCM, "Eaten Alive". She would portray former Manson family member turned state's witness Linda Kasabian in "Helter Skelter" and as Faye the neurotic housewife turned "woman-in-peril" in "Eaten Alive".
After spending some time away from the cinema, Burns would co-star with Fabian in the 1981 horror film "Kiss Daddy Goodbye" and a guest starring role in the 1984 sci-fi/horror film "Future-Kill" before devoting her full attention to theater and stage directing. Ten years later, Marilyn Burns would reprise her role as Sally Hardesty in an uncredited cameo in "Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre". She would stay retired from the cinema for another ten years until she made a cameo in the Kim Henkel penned film "Butcher Boys". Burns would return in a guest starring role in the direct sequel to TCM "The Texas Chainsaw".
Marilyn Burns was a part of Americana with her iconic role of Sally Hardesty and her haunting portrayal of Linda Kasabian. She was flattered by her "Scream Queen" title and attended horror film themed conventions to meet-and-greet her fans. Her status in cult films is legendary and she will be missed.
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