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Ari Lehman: The First Jason

Movie Talk

Ari Lehman: The First Jason

Photo by Everett Collection

Don't walk under a ladder. Don't break a mirror. And, for the love of gravy, avoid black cats at all costs.

Today is Friday the 13th, a day to avoid anything and everything that might be considered unlucky. The date's bad-luck reputation stretches back centuries, but it really hit the masses in 1980 when the first "Friday the 13th" horror movie arrived in theaters.

The film wasn't favorite of critics, but horror fans ate it up. The flick was a kind of cash-in response to the similarly plotted "Halloween," which had come out a few years before. But over the years, thanks to sequels, reboots, crossovers, and more, Jason the hockey-mask-wearing killer, has become the stuff of legend.

Photo courtesy of Ari Lehman

In honor of Friday the 13th (which happens about three times every year), we thought it high time to shine a spotlight on Ari Lehman, the little-known actor who played Jason Voorhees in the first film. Lehman has only a tiny role at the end of the film, but what he lacked in screen time, he more than made up for in terror. His scene is among the most famous in slasher-flick history.

In the 30-plus years since the film came out, Lehman hasn't done much acting, instead focusing on his music. His official site explains that he studied jazz piano in New York City and now headlines a rock group called (of course) FirstJason. Song titles include "Soul Seller," "Machete Is My Friend," and the eerily prophetic "Jason Never Dies."

The band performs in punk/metal clubs, film festivals, and horror conventions across the country. No word on whether Lehman wears a hockey mask onstage.

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