According to the actress's neice, Burns was found unresponisve in her Houston home (the cause of death is currently undetermined). Burns pursued acting while attaining her drama degree at the University of Texas at Austin. She had an early role in director Robert Altman's "Brewster McCloud", but it's her role as Sally Hardesty in Tobe Hooper's 1974 proto-slasher film that made her a horror icon.
Burn's was a true scream queen, blessed with pipes that perfectly conveyed the terror of being hunted by cannibalistic murderers in rural Texas. And perhaps her finest screen moment comes at the film's end, where upon making her escape from the villainous Leatherface, she erupts in wide-eyed laughter, forever traumatized, yet finally safe from his clutches.
Burn's would go on to play bit parts in other films, most notably as Linda Kasabian in "Helter Skelter", the 1976 miniseries biopic of Charles Manson. She also appeared in two "Chainsaw" reboots: "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation" (1994) and "Texas Chainsaw 3D" (2013).
2014 was proving to be a landmark year for Burns: "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is celebrating it's 40th anniversary, and a restored print played to a packed house at SXSW 2014. And this October, she was set to attend the 40th anniversary reunion at Phil Anselmo's "Housecore Horror Fest" with the rest of the prinicple cast.
For horror lovers, her presence will live on in that classic film, made all the more convincing by her frenzied portrayal.
R.I.P. Marilyn Burns 1949-2014