They say you never forget your first. I know this is at least true of the first celebrity I ever met at a horror convention.
It was at the 2004 Horrorfind Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland, where I met Gunnar Hansen, who portrayed Leatherface in Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
I didn’t know what to expect from the stars seated in the ballroom, but Hansen was the first actor I spotted in the room. I couldn’t believe I was feet away from the man who brought to life on the big screen one of the most iconic horror characters of all time. Only when I saw the still photos on his table did I realize I was about to experience something awesome.
The actor was very friendly and down to earth, which calmed my newbie nerves. He chatted with ease, graciously autographing a photo and posing for a picture. I’ve discovered that the nicest, kindest, people play the worst characters. He was no exception.
His passing is a huge loss to the horror community. When I’m at a haunted attraction next October, and the inevitable chainsaws slice their way through the darkness, the tear I shed won’t be out of fear, but out of the memory that sound invokes. Rest in peace Mr. Hansen and thank you.