This weekend, we lost one of the nicest people from our horror family. Known as the mother of Jason Voorhees, actress Betsy Palmer passed away on Friday from natural causes at a hospice care center in Connecticut. While she was obviously known because of her role in Friday the 13th, she had a huge career way before that film ever was an idea. She worked alongside the greats, like Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power, Maureen O’Hara, Anthony Perkins, and even Joan Crawford.
For a while, she was a regular on the convention circuit and I had the pleasure of meeting her several times over the years. In fact, one show here in Chicago, here table was right by mine so we got to chat quite a bit over the weekend. Plus, during one of the evenings, I had the honor of driving her, along with some of the other Friday cast to the Music Box Theatre for a Q&A and screening of the film. Driving into the city in the Chicago traffic on a Saturday night is always a challenge, but to have Betsy Palmer sitting in the passenger seat, telling stories, often with the language of a drunken sailor,and keep my eyes on the road, was definitely harder to do. She was one of the most down to earth and kindest person I’ve met in 25+ years of going to conventions. She always showed her fans respect.
While I was waiting by her table at one show to just say hello to her, a fan of hers asked her if she has any regrets of being remembered from this low budget slasher movie. She mentioned that she had been friends with Boris Karloff many years ago, and he never minded being still known for playing the creature in Frankenstein and “if it was good enough for him, then it’s good enough for me!” That was the kind of person she was. She loved her fans as much as they loved her. Her charm and sharp wit will definitely be missed at the shows.
Rest in Peace, Besty. We all love you. You will be remembered and never forgotten.