Horror Month: Betsy Palmer (Friday the 13th) – A Tribute.

Horror Month – June 2015

Betsy-Palmer-3On June 1st news broke worldwide the legendary actress Betsy Palmer, 88 had died of natural causes at a hospice care centre near her home in Danbury, Connecticut.

We at Indie Mac User were truly shocked and saddened by the news as we were in talks with Betsy’s manager Brad to interview her for horror month.

This day has been dedicated to the remarkable actress, performer and fan favourite that is Betsy Palmer.

I love people, I was born loving people – Betsy Palmer

Betsy Palmer kicked off her career as a sweet-talking panellist on TV game shows in the 1950’s.


Her lengthy television and film career spanned more than five decades, starting with a number of high-profile roles in the 1950s, including a regular role as a panellist on the prime-time TV game show I’ve Got a Secret and a role as contributor on NBC’s The Today Show.


She drew a new generation of fans, with her role as Mrs. Voorhees in the 1980 cult classic Friday the 13th.

It’s a role Palmer often  stated she’d only accepted because “she was convinced no one would see it” and because she “needed the money for a new car”.

The day before she got a call about the film, her Mercedes broke down on the Connecticut turnpike. She quickly set her sights on a new one that would cost $10,000. The offer for the film would pay her exactly that, leading to a sporty new vehicle and a revitalized career as the notorious Pamela Voorhees.

betsyEven though she wasn’t originally a fan of the script and didn’t want to perform in a horror film, Palmer once said she appreciated the chance to change her image after playing so many wholesome roles on screen.

Palmer recalled in Return to Crystal Lake a documentary about the making of the film –

Annex - Palmer, Betsy_NRFPT_01“The image always was of me was that I was this girl next door, and of course I’ve always said that there wasn’t a gal that ever lived next door to me that I wanted to be like, [..] I was always trying to prove that I wasn’t the girl next door.”

As-well as film and TV stardom her credits on Broadway included Roar Like a Dove, Cactus Flower and The Eccentricities of a Nightingale.

We asked some of Betsy’s former colleagues and acquaintances for comment:

My sincerest condolences  on the passing of an extraordinary woman. She changed the face of horror, she opened the door for women like myself and she was a sensational spirit! I’m so heartbroken over her passing but I know she’d want us to celebrate her beautiful life. She will be in our hearts forever and will certainly be missed by all. RIP Betsy Palmer and we all love you, always – Felissa Rose (Star of Sleepaway Camp)

Betsy Palmer made everyone around her feel special. No one could work a crowd like her, I have seen her make people laugh until they literally fell out of their seats. When she knew I was going to perform onstage she would always say “Knock ’em Dead, Ari, and Leave ’em Writhing in the Aisles!” and she meant every word of it. I love her madly forever…” – Ari Lehman (Jason – Friday the 13th)

Betsy’s career brought her great success and the fame that comes with that — and she earned it. She was the consummate professional. Whether on a television, film on stage set, Betsy always felt at home in wherever the city or town was that her work took her to. Her work brought her great joy — and while I admire the wonderful career and the great reputation she earned as an actress, I honour and respect her the most for the kind of person she was and for the quiet and remarkable ways in which she quietly and out-of-camera-range helped others throughout her life.Brad LeMack (Betsy’s Agent)

Betsy Palmer hated my screenplay, but, as the true professional she is, she made a silk purse out of my sow’s ear.  We are all indeed fortunate that she needed the money to buy a car to replace her dead one.Victor Miller (Writer – Friday the 13th)

Now that I’ve gotten past the initial shock I’m able to focus more on the happiness & celebrate the joy of Betsy’s life; makes her passing much easier[…]

Sean was so smart to keep Betsy & me apart between scenes when we filmed Friday the 13th… he probably realized we would have become fast friends on set. That might have gotten in the way of our biting & smashing each other’s head in the sand.

When we reunited in 2004 we quickly became good friends as we spent time together at conventions. I am so blessed to have gotten to know the Betsy Palmer behind Mrs. Voorhees. She was an all-around stunner! So smart, beautiful & incredibly talented! I always enjoyed Betsy at Q&A’s! I just let her go & Mrs. V. rocked the room of fans with her quick wit & brutal honesty!

She invited me over to her Brownstone off of Central Park West in the Spring of 2009 for Dinner. By this time Betsy had convinced me to become a vegetarian: “Chicken! You don’t want to eat chicken! Who wants to eat an animal that eats its own shit!”.. that was Betsy~~

So, I brought my Crystal Lake Memories Book to her cozy apartment that late afternoon (I’d finally received it myself from Peter) for her to sign. 
It was close to Mother’s Day & she was going to visit her daughter in Connecticut & asked if she could ‘borrow’ the Bracke ‘bible’ of which she had not received a copy.

We looked through the bloody brilliant book & I could see her amazement at the phenomenon of our little Friday the 13th; what this little low budget horror flick had spawned…all unfolding as we flipped through the pages together.

She looked at me & said.. ”This all began with us!”
It brought tears to both our eyes & this is when she said to me, “ I guess being remembered for a devoted mother isn’t the worst thing in the World…” and I said “Betsy, you have three generations of fans around the Globe who adore you. You’ve impacted them forever! You were a pioneer in the industry & are a living legend & they love you”!

And Betsy smiled and said..” I guess I’m going to have to embrace that~~”..; she chuckled & held the book to her chest. And she did. I saw in that moment that Betsy let it happen and it gave me goosebumps as I watched her let out a huge sigh and smile with tears running down her cheeks. She had finally embraced her role as Mrs. Voorhees despite the agony it caused her when the film first came out in 1980.  It was a full circle moment.

“May I keep this” she asked of the book.

“It’s yours, Betsy. Enjoy.” And I know she did.

We had a special moment that is frozen in time”.  Adrienne King (Alice – Friday the 13th)


See Also
Interview with Adrienne King (Alice – Friday the 13th)
Interview with Victor Miller (Writer – Friday the 13th)
Interview with Ari Lehman (Jason – Friday the 13th)
Interview with Robbi Morgan (Annie – Friday the 13th)

Get involved with Horror Month!

Take part in our Survey for a chance to win some horror goodies and tickets to HorrorCon UK 2015! Contest details here.

7 thoughts on “Horror Month: Betsy Palmer (Friday the 13th) – A Tribute.

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