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Where in the Horror are they Now? Friday the 13th Star Betsy Palmer!

02.13.2015by: JimmyO

BETSY PALMER

Then: Every year I get very excited when Friday happens to fall on the 13th. Luckily this year, we have no less than three of them. But to celebrate the first one - yes, it’s holiday time at the JimmyO household - it seemed appropriate to look back on the career of one of the most important players in the entire franchise. It may seem odd considering Betsy Palmer probably has less than a half an hour in all the films, yet it was her crazed, revenge fueled mommy dearest that started it all. If it hadn’t been for Pamela Voorhees, we wouldn’t have her lunatic son wandering around Camp Crystal Lake. And quite frankly, her wildly over-the-top performance in the original FRIDAY THE 13th still puts a huge smile on my face.

Of course, Ms. Palmer didn’t start off as a crazed killer hunting down camp counselors. The beautiful and vivacious talent found a home in the early 1950’s with television. Now I could name a ton of these shows yet not a one of them really rings a bell for me. However, the actress did find work in feature films as well. She appeared in a little something called DEATH TIDE in 1955 and MISTER ROBERTS that same year. Yet television gave her steady work. In fact, she starred opposite the legendary James Dean on two television shows, “Danger” and “Studio One.” In fact, she even had a romance with him for about nine months! That is just all sorts of bad ass in my book.

Imagine taking on a role that you have no interest being a part of simply because you need a car. Well, that is exactly what the actress did when she was offered the script for FRIDAY THE 13th. Needless to say she wasn't a fan. Yet once this teen slasher flick exploded and became a massive hit, the nice and cheerful television sweetheart was a crazy killer and it forever changed Betsy Palmer's life. Even if she didn't fully embrace the franchise in the beginning, it was very satisfying to see her return if only for a moment in the follow-up, the fantastically awesome, and appropriately titled FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2. To say that I love her in this role is one hell of an understatement. She was a huge part of my favorite horror franchise - yep, I am a sucker for all things Jason Voorhees.

Unfortunately, once Pamela Voorhees lost her head in the world of F13 she didn't have the opportunity to return - it would have been great to see her in the remake, but no such luck. In fact, after the film's success she seemed to steer clear of horror and went back to television with appearances on "The Love Boat" in 1982, "T.J. Hooker" in 1983, “Murder She Wrote” in 1985-98 for 2 episodes, ”Newhart” in 1987 among others. Then in 1989, she took up residence on the  nighttime soap "Knot's Landing" for twenty-nine episodes.

While television was a huge part of her career, the actress returned to gene in the decent scare flick THE FEAR: RESURRECTION in 1999. Okay, it wasn't great, but for some reason it worked for me. Or maybe I was just so darn happy to see her back in horror. She then did another couple of genre entries which included a 2005 short called “Penny Dreadful” and in 2007, she was the voice of the ‘Bell Witch’ in BELL WITCH: THE MOVIE. That last flick I’ve yet to see but I only hope they made at least some reference to FRIDAY THE 13th.

NOW: Back in 2009, I had the incredible opportunity to speak with the very candid and delightful Betsy Palmer. We discussed her career, her history in television and of course her relationship with FRIDAY THE 13th and playing Pamela Voorhees - you can read the full interview here. Now aside from BELL WITCH: THE MOVIE, the actress had mentioned performing the play “Love Letters” for charity. What was so impressive about her was how content she was in her life. There is something truly thrilling listening to her discuss working with Joan Crawford and James Dean, and being a ‘game show girl’ for “I’ve Got a Secret.” She is much more than a horror icon, she is an amazing lady that treats her fans with absolute love and respect as any convention goer may find.

And speaking of FRIDAY THE 13th, you can bet that she was a part of the fantastic “Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th” from 2013. And this year she will be featured in the documentary “Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age.” During our conversation a few years back, I had asked her was if there were any modern horror filmmakers she’d like to work with. To this she replied:

I don’t think I’m a good judge of that honey. Only because I just haven’t seen anything that’s really out there. So it wouldn’t be really wise for me to judge something I don’t really know anything about anymore. I mean, I worked with John Ford. My first two films were with him. I’ve worked with Joan Crawford and all these people that I worked with on T.V., it was… my life is filled with a lot of people.
We may not be seeing much of Betsy Palmer in the cinema, or even on television anymore. But if you are lucky, you can catch her at a convention or maybe on stage, and you can bet it will be an experience you will never forget. Thank you Ms. Palmer, FRIDAY THE 13th just wouldn’t be the same without you.

You can find out more about her on her official Facebook page or look back at her incredibly varied resume on IMDB. Happy Friday the 13th everybody!
Extra Tidbit: Which is your favorite F13 flick? Anybody love Jason Takes Manhattan or Jason Goes To Hell out there?
Source: AITH

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