Actress Betsy Palmer, best known to horror film fans around the world as Jason Voorhees’ mother Pamela Voorhees, has passed away. She was 88-years old. Palmer died on Friday at a Connecticut hospice care center, according to her manager Brad Lemack. The actress is survived by her daughter, Melissa Merendino.
Palmer was a high-profile star of both Broadway and the Silver Screen. She worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest A-List players including Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power, Joan Crawford, Anthony Perkins and Maureen O’Hara.
On television, Palmer gained notoriety on Goodyear Playhouse (1954-1957), Studio One in Hollywood (1948-1958) and Playhouse 90 (1956-1960). But it wasn’t until her agent approached Palmer to star in a small horror film that her “good girl” image vanished forever.
Palmer needed a new car and she eyed herself a “cute” Volkswagen Scirocco. So, despite thinking the script was rubbish, Palmer accepted the role of vengeful mother Pamela Voorhees to buy the new vehicle. That film was Friday the 13th (1980).
The role propelled Palmer to new heights for a modern-day generation of scary movie fans. And despite being killed at the end of the picture, Palmer returned in the sequel Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) in a pivotal cameo role.
Palmer was approached to return in Freddy vs. Jason (2003), but turned down the part. Palmer said in numerous interviews that the dialogue was not well-written and that it was not something worthy of an actor’s time, so she declined to appear in the picture.
Palmer became a fan favorite at horror film festivals and conventions for years to come. She also did numerous interviews supporting her villainous role, including the documentary projects His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th (2009) and Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013).
Rest in peace, Betsy Palmer.
Notable film and T.V. appearances:
“Mister Roberts” (1955)
“The Long Gray Line” (1955)
“Queen Bee” (1955)
“The Tin Star” (1957)
“Goodyear Playhouse” (1954-1957)
“Studio One in Hollywood” (1948-1958)
“Playhouse 90” (1956-1960)
“Friday the 13th” (1980)
“Friday the 13th Part 2” (1981)
“The Love Boat” (1982)
“T.J. Hooker” (1983)
“Charles in Charge” (1987)
“Murder, She Wrote” (1985-1989)
“Knots Landing” (1989-1990)
“Just Shoot Me” (1998)
“His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th” (2009)
“Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th” (2013)