She was the first killer to shed blood at the venerable Camp Crystal Lake; her initial bloody rampage through that same summer camp set the stage for a phenomenon that still thrills we horror fans to this day; her cinematic son would go on to brutally carve his name into our collective horror memory.
She was Besty Palmer; most remembered to we fans of the macabre as Pamela Voorhees, the unhinged mother of the legendary Jason Voorhees. She passed from this world this weekend at the age of 88.
Long before her now-iconic turn in the world famous slasher series, Palmer was an accomplished actress of stage and screen, as well as television. She starred alongside such greats as Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Anthony Perkins, James Cagney, Tyrone Power, and Maureen O’Hara, appearing in classic films such as the World War II staple Mister Roberts, the Oscar-nominated western Tin Star, and The Long Gray Line, among others. She also was a staple of the early years of television, appearing on a long list of variety programs, game shows, and other popular series.
Although she worried at first that her turn as the killer cook in the first chapter of the Friday the 13th films might become a blemish on a great career, she later came to embrace the role, delighting in the new generation of fans that it brought her. She went on to do more television in her later years, and additional film work that we horror fans can still enjoy as her legacy, including the 2005 short film Penny Dreadful, The Fear: Resurrection, and as the voice of the titular spirit in Bell Witch: The Movie.
Betsy Palmer leaves behind her daughter, Melissa, and a body of work that will be etched in the minds of we horror fans for many, many years to come.
May she rest in peace.
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