Betsy Palmer passes away at age 88 - R.I.P., Mrs. Voorhees

There's very sad news to report this morning, news which I was devastated to hear. Last night, Betsy Palmer's longtime manager Brad Lemack announced that the actress, best known to genre fans for her iconic performance as Mrs. Voorhees in 1980's FRIDAY THE 13TH, passed away of natural causes on Friday at the age of 88.

Born in East Chicago, Indiana on November 1, 1926, Palmer spent the early decades of her career appearing in such films as MISTER ROBERTS, QUEEN BEE, and THE TIN STAR while doing a whole lot of television work, becoming a household name through her guest spots as a panelist on multiple game shows, most notably I'VE GOT A SECRET.

It was the wholesome, trustworthy image Palmer had cultivated that made her a prime choice, in director Sean S. Cunningham's eyes, to play the vengeful killer in his film FRIDAY THE 13TH. He figured that audiences would be shocked to see Betsy Palmer play such a character. Under typical circumstances, Palmer probably would have turned down the role. She wasn't interested in doing a horror movie, and was convinced this one would be a piece of crap. But the job paid $10,000, she needed a new car, and the one she wanted would cost $10,000. She accepted the offer, and horror history was made.

Palmer's appearance in the film was indeed met with shock from many and disrespect from some, Gene Siskel famously urged outraged moviegoers to write to Palmer's home to shame her, but FRIDAY THE 13TH was also the actress's gateway to reaching generations of new, adoring fans. It was a gig in something that didn't really appeal to her at the time, but in later years she came to realize that Mrs. Voorhees was very well loved by legions of viewers. She embraced her place in the horror hall of fame and enjoyed meeting fans on the convention circuit.

I was one of those fans. I had a wonderful experience meeting Betsy Palmer at a convention in 2008. She was an awesome, extremely nice, lively lady, and had specific directions for exactly how I should put my arms around her for the picture we took together. I'm very glad to have had the chance to interact with her for those few minutes, and I cherish that memory now.

The FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise is one of my primary cinematic obsessions. The series means a lot to me, I owe the inception of my horror fandom to it, so I have always seen Mrs. Voorhees as one of the most important characters in the entire genre. Betsy Palmer's performance was brilliant. Mrs. Voorhees was creepy and dangerous, and yet she also evokes sympathy. She's insane, but she was driven insane by the loss of her child.

Word of Palmer's passing is something I've been expecting for a while. She hadn't done a convention in a few years, and I had heard that was because her health was in decline. Expecting it doesn't make the news any less crushing. We've lost one of the greats. She will be missed. Her cinematic legacy will live on.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Voorhees.

Rest in peace, Betsy Palmer.

Extra Tidbit: Our condolences to Betsy Palmer's family, friends, and fans.
Source: BroadwayWorld



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