Marilyn Burns was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, and started acting in a bit part in Robert Altman’s Brewster McCloud. She was working at the Texas Film Commission while attending the University of Texas when she took part in a casting call for the role of Sally Hardesty in Tobe Hooper’s iconic horror film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and was anointed a horror genre ‘Scream Queen.’ She followed Chainsaw with Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive (1976), where she played a vacationer who unwittingly stumbles upon a hotel run by a madman who feeds his guests to his pet alligator. In 1976 she appeared in the major television miniseries Helter Skelter (1976). Her role as Linda Kasabian, the Charles Manson follower whose testimony helped lead to the convictions of the cult leader and many of his followers, was a major hit.
Marilyn continued her ‘Scream Queen’ status by starring such horror movies as Brutes and Savages (1977), Caution: Children at Play (1981), Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981), and Future-Kill (1985).
She currently lives in Texas and acts and direct on stage. She appeared in a cameo for The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1994 and was recently named one of the Ten Sexiest Scream Queens by Movifone.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Tobe Hooper’s influential cult classic continues the subgenre of horror films based on the life and “career” of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. When Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) hears that the Texas cemetery where her grandfather is buried has been vandalized, she gathers her wheelchair-bound brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain) and several other friends together to see if grandpa’s remains are still in one piece. While in the area, Sally and her friends decide to visit grandfather’s old farmhouse. Unfortunately, a family of homicidal slaughterhouse workers who take their job home with them have taken over the house next door. Included amongst the brood is Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), a chainsaw-wielding human horror show who wears a face mask made out of human skin. Sally’s friends are rapidly exterminated one-by-one by the next-door neighbors, leaving only Sally left to fight off Leatherface and his clan.