Nov. 22, 2003, 10:20PM

Siedow, 83, Texas Chainsaw Massacre actor By ROBERT CROWE Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle

Jim Siedow, a carpet salesman better known for his role as "Cook" in the first two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, died from emphysema complications Thursday in his Houston home. He was 83. In both of the campy horror flicks, Siedow played the guy who cooks up the flesh of people captured by a freaky family whose cross-dressing, chainsaw-wielding member, Leatherface, became somewhat of a household name. Siedow was the only actor from the original Chainsaw film to perform in the second movie. The first film, released in 1974, cost just $86,000 to make but became a major hit. The second film was released in 1986 and other sequels followed. Siedow's wife, Ruth, said her husband had a great sense of humor. "People just liked to be around him because he made them laugh," she said. "I loved him very much." In 1986, during an interview, Siedow told a reporter that he considered the Chainsaw films more "funny than scary." Born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyo., Siedow moved to New York City, where he was a stage actor in the late 1930s. After World War II started, he served as an engineer in the Army Air Corps. He and Ruth met and married in Chicago in 1946. They performed on radio soap operas before moving to Kentucky and later Houston in 1954. In Houston, Siedow sold carpet as a career. "We read Houston was a great place to make a living," she said. In the 1960s, they joined Theatre Suburbia, where Siedow went on to direct and perform in many plays. On his personal Web site, his family states that Siedow was the first person to direct Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in Houston. Siedow landed the Texas Chainsaw Massacre part after making an impression on its director when they both acted in the film The Windsplitter in 1971, Ruth Siedow said. He jumped at the opportunity to act in the Chainsaw film, she said. "That just changed our life when he read the script," she said. "We saw it and (thought) it's a grade-B drive-in movie, but it would be fun." The couple had three children -- a daughter and two sons -- and two grandchildren. Siedow had donated his body to science. A memorial service in his honor will take place in about one month.


2004 Tim Harden