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Gunnar Hansen (1947 – 2015)

Associated Press / Robert F. Bukaty

Gunnar Hansen (1947 – 2015)

Gunnar Hansen, 68, the actor who played terrifying cannibal Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, died at his home in Maine from pancreatic cancer, according to Associated Press.

Hansen was born in in Reykjavik, Iceland. He came to the U.S. and studied at the University of Texas, where he majored in English and Scandinavian Studies.

In 1973, just after finishing graduate school, Hansen heard that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was being filmed in Austin and decided to try out. He got the part of Leatherface, the masked killer in the movie. Hansen says that he viewed Leatherface as being mentally disabled, and based his performance off of observations he made of children in a special needs school, according to DeathandTaxes magazine.

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According to the Independent Daily News, he once said in a TV interview that he is so unlike his Leatherface character, that when people who meet him and learn that he played the murderer, they often react with disbelief.

According to Wikipedia, Hansen is also an author; his nonfiction travel memoir, Islands at the Edge of Time, A journey to America's Barrier Islands, was published in 1993. In 2013 he wrote the nonfiction book Chain Saw Confidential, which focuses on the making of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. 

He is survived by his partner of 13 years, Betty Tower.

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