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University of Texas at Austin

Tobe Hooper:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Hooper, Tobe, 1943-2017
Title: Tobe Hooper Papers
Dates: 1941–1983 (bulk 1967–1975)
Extent: 9 document boxes (3.78 linear feet), 6 oversize boxes (osb)
Abstract: The Tobe Hooper Papers document the creation of director, writer, and producer Tobe Hooper's first feature-length films, Eggshells and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Papers include production notes, publicity documents, photographs, negatives, slides, clippings, serials, and props along with other professional and personal materials.
Call Number: Film Collection FI-014
Language: English and French
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Gift, 1995
Processed by: Katherine Kapsidelis, 2015

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Director, writer, and producer Tobe Hooper was born in Austin, Texas, on January 25, 1943. Hooper's parents were hotel managers who also owned a movie theatre in San Angelo, Texas, and Hooper became a fan of the cinema at a young age. He studied film at the University of Texas at Austin, and his early films included the short Heisters (circa 1963-1965) and documentaries on education (A Way of Learning, circa 1967), the demolition of a neighborhood home in Austin (Down Friday Street, circa 1970), and the folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary (circa 1970).
His first feature-length film was Eggshells: An American Freak Illumination (1970), an independent production that Hooper wrote and directed. Filmed in Austin, Eggshells was a mix of fantasy and reality aimed at the "bohemian segments of our society." The film won a gold award at the 1971 Atlanta International Film Festival.
Kim Henkel, a co-star in Eggshells under the pseudonym Boris Schnurr, would go on to collaborate with Hooper on his next film. Hooper and Henkel co-wrote a script loosely inspired by the story of the Wisconsin grave robber and murderer Ed Gein. Filmed with the working title "Leatherface," the movie would ultimately be called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Hooper directed the low-budget production, which was filmed on a compressed schedule outside of Austin in 1973. It was distributed by Bryanston Pictures, and although commercially successful, the film's release was marred by financial disputes. Initially receiving mixed critical reviews, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was screened at the 1975 Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and has become an influential classic of the horror genre.
Hooper's long career in film and television since the Texas Chainsaw Massacre includes the critically acclaimed film Poltergeist (1982), the television adaptation of Salem's Lot (1979), and the sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986).
Hooper died on August 26, 2017.


Macor, Alison. Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010.
Muir, John Kenneth. Eaten Alive at a Chainsaw Massacre: The Films of Tobe Hooper. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2002.

Scope and Contents

The Tobe Hooper Papers (1941–1983, bulk 1967–1975) document the creation of Hooper's first feature-length films, Eggshells and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Hooper Papers include production notes, publicity materials, photographs, negatives, slides, clippings, serials, and props related to the creation of these films. The collection also contains other personal and professional documents, including correspondence, materials from the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, and foreign film posters. The timespan documented in this collection is limited and does not encompass the entirety of Hooper's lifelong career in the film and television industry. The Papers are divided into three series: I. Films, 1970-1975, 1982, undated; II. Career and Personal, 1967–1983, undated; and III. Serials, 1941, 1966–1977.
The Hooper Papers, which were previously contained in a storage unit, arrived at the Harry Ransom Center with no discernable organization, arrangement, or (with one exception) labeled files. The collection was organized at the Ransom Center by subject, format, and importance, with items related directly to Eggshells and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre separated from other professional and personal materials. All file titles (other than folder 2.9, where Hooper's title was retained) have been created by the Ransom Center.
Series I. Films is divided into two subseries: A. Eggshells, 1970-1971, undated; and B. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1973-1975, 1982, undated. Subseries A. Eggshells contains production notes, film stills, slides, and publicity materials, along with a program and poster from the 1971 Atlanta International Film Festival. Subseries B. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre includes production notes, publicity materials, photographs, negatives, slides, clippings, and props. Some documents in Series II. Career and Personal are also related to the production of Eggshells and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and serials with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre articles and advertisements are located in the Serials and Publications series.
Series II. Career and Personal is divided into four subseries: A. Professional Papers, 1967–1975, undated; B. Screenplays by Others, 1973-1975, undated; C. Cannes International Film Festival, 1975; and D. Personal, 1972-1974, undated.
Subseries A. Professional Papers contains career-related documents, including correspondence, slides, scrapbooks, and foreign film posters. The correspondence folder includes letters related to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is also documented in this subseries with other materials, as is Eggshells.
Subseries B. Screenplays by Others contains eleven screenplays in alphabetical order by the name of the writer.
Subseries C. Cannes International Film Festival contains publications and publicity materials from the 1975 festival. Although The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was screened at the Director's Fortnight, there are no documents in this collection that relate directly to this screening.
Subseries D. Personal contains documents, negatives, and photographs along with other materials that are not directly related to Hooper's career.
Series III. Serials, 1941, 1966–1977, contains newspapers and magazines, some of which reference Hooper or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These materials are in alphabetical order by title then by date. Some publications are incomplete.
The archive was purchased at auction and donated to the Harry Ransom Center.

Related Material

The Ransom Center holds the papers of Warren Skaaren, the first executive director of the Texas Film Commission, who played an important role in the production of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Skaaren's papers include a screenplay for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Separated Material

More than 950 moving image items and associated sound recordings documenting Eggshells and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Hooper's Peter, Paul, and Mary documentary, education project, and other commercial and documentary work were transferred to the Center's Moving Image and Sound Recordings Collections.
A Leatherface mask from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was transferred to the Costume Collection. Access to the mask is restricted for preservation purposes and available only with curatorial permission.
Savage Cinema by Rick Trader Witcombe (Bounty Books, 1975) was transferred to the Ransom Center Library. The book includes a brief commentary on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Index Terms


Hooper, Tobe, 1943 - .


Horror films--Production and direction.
Motion Pictures, American.
Motion picture producers and directors--United States.


Austin (Tex.)

Document Types

Black-and-white photographs.
Color prints (photographs).
Film negatives.
Film stills.
Moving images.
Serials (publications).
Sound recordings.

Container List