2015 has been a harsh year in the ways of celebrity deaths. The horror genre had been cut particularly deep with the passing of legends like Wes Craven and Christopher Lee.
Sadly, another name must be added to the list of these fallen heroes.
Gunnar Hansen, the actor who originally portrayed Leatherface in 1974's Texas Chainsaw Massacre has reportedly passed away at the age of 68.
Originally from Iceland, his family immigrated first to Maine when he was 5, and then to Texas when he was 11. Having just finished graduate school, Hansen landed the role of the iconic, cannibalistic killer after a chance audition in Austin, Texas. Despite the many sequels, prequels and remakes, he only portrayed the character once. He did, however, return to the series in 2013, by way of a small cameo in the role of Boss Sawyer in 2013's Texas Chainsaw 3D.
Predating John Carpenter's Halloween by 4 years, Leatherface is considered to be the first masked serial killer in American cinematic culture, setting off a trend that would invite the wild popularity of characters such as Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is widely recognized as the first modern slasher film.
Despite playing the deranged killer, Hansen was known by family, friends and fans alike as an extremely kindhearted and friendly person. While he starred in nearly 30 projects, he was also an accomplished writer, writing for multiple magazines as well as a travel memoir and a non-fiction account of his experience making Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
As a horror fan, with a particular attraction to slasher films, I remove my hat and bow my head to the loss of a national treasure that brought thrills and chills to so many over the years.
Rest in peace, good sir. We shall do a chainsaw dance in your honor.