Betsy Palmer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Betsy Palmer
Betsy Palmer 1960.JPG
Palmer in 1960.
Born Patricia Betsy Hrunek
(1926-11-01) November 1, 1926 (age 88)
East Chicago, Indiana, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1951–present
Spouse(s) Vincent J. Merendino (m. 1954–71)
Betsy Palmer and Jackie Gleason in The Time of Your Life (1958)
Palmer on I've Got a Secret with host Garry Moore and three of Bing Crosby's sons (1961)

Betsy Palmer (born November 1, 1926) is an American actress, best known as a regular panelist on the game show I've Got a Secret, and later for playing Pamela Voorhees in the slasher film Friday the 13th.

Life and career[edit]

Palmer was born Patricia Betsy Hrunek in East Chicago, Indiana, the daughter of Marie (née Love), who headed[citation needed] the Chicago Business College, and Vincent R. Hrunek, an industrial chemist who was an immigrant from Czechoslovakia.[1][2][3] She graduated from DePaul University, where she studied theater.[4] Palmer married Dr. Vincent J. Merendino on May 8, 1954; the couple had one daughter, Missy (b. 1962). They divorced in 1971.

Palmer got her first acting job in 1951 when she joined the cast of a 15 minute long, daily soap opera, Miss Susan, which was produced in Philadelphia. She was "discovered" for this role while attending a party in the apartment of actor Frank Sutton (Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.). She had been in New York City less than one week.

A life member of The Actors Studio,[5] Palmer's stage work included a tour of South Pacific (as Nellie Forbush) and the title role in Maggie, a 1953 musicalization of What Every Woman Knows.

She would later become a familiar face on television as a long-running regular panelist on the quiz show I've Got a Secret. She joined the show's original run, replacing Faye Emerson in 1958 and remaining until the show's finale in 1967. She did not subsequently reprise her role in any of the various revivals of the show. Palmer is the last surviving member of the "I've Got a Secret" first version's cast.

Palmer appeared as Kitty Carter in The Long Gray Line (1955), starring Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara. She also played nurse Lt. Ann Girard (the main female character) in the all-star cast of the classic film Mister Roberts (1955), starring Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, James Cagney, and William Powell. She also played Carol Lee Phillips in the film Queen Bee (1956), which starred Joan Crawford.

Palmer starred alongside Fonda again as well as Anthony Perkins in the Paramount production of The Tin Star (1957), a Western that was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Story or Screenplay.

In 1958, she played an undercover agent Phyllis Carter/Lynn Stuart in the film The True Story of Lynn Stuart, co-starring Jack Lord and featuring Kim Spalding as her husband, Ralph Carter.

Palmer's need to purchase a new car was her reason for taking her most famous role in Friday the 13th. She recounted, in an interview, that her initial reaction to the experience was: "What a piece of shit! Nobody is ever going to see this thing."[6] Despite her distaste for the film, she consented to a cameo appearance in Friday the 13th Part 2. She ultimately came to embrace her participation in the films since it made her more famous rather than infamous, appearing in the 2006 documentary Betsy Palmer: A Scream Queen Legend. Palmer was asked to reprise her role as Mrs. Voorhees in Freddy vs. Jason in 2003, but turned it down, reportedly due to the low remuneration she was offered.

Palmer created the role of "Suz Becker" on the CBS daytime soap opera As the World Turns. From 1991 to 1992, the actress appeared on Knots Landing as Virginia "Ginny" Bullock, the aunt of Valene Ewing (played by series star Joan Van Ark).

Later years[edit]

She acted in a Mayfield Dinner Theatre production of On Golden Pond in Edmonton, Alberta in 1997. In 2005, she appeared in the horror short Penny Dreadful and in 2007 as the older version of the title character in Waltzing Anna. She provided the voice of the title character, the ghost of a witch, in the 2007 horror film Bell Witch: The Movie.


Year Film Role Notes
1955 Death Tide Gloria
The Long Gray Line Kitty Carter
Mister Roberts Lt. Ann Girard
Queen Bee Carol Lee Phillips
1957 The Tin Star Nona Mayfield
1958 The True Story of Lynn Stuart Phyllis Carter/Lynn Stuart
1959 It Happened to Jane Herself (panelist)
The Ballad of Louie the Louse Tina Adams Television film
The Last Angry Man Anna Thrasher
1980 Friday the 13th Pamela Voorhees
1981 Friday the 13th Part 2 Pamela Voorhees
Isabel's Choice Ellie Fineman
1988 Windmills of the Gods Mrs. Hart Brisbane
Goddess of Love Hera
1992 Still Not Quite Human Aunt Mildred
1994 Unveiled Eva
1999 The Fear: Resurrection Grandmother
2006 Waltzing Anna Anna Rhoades
2007 Bell Witch: The Movie Bell Witch

Television appearances[edit]

From 1953 to 2001, Palmer was a guest star on 73 television programs, including (in no particular order):


Palmer was the recipient of the 2005 Major Award from the New England Theatre Conference NETC online for her stage work.[7]


  1. ^ Shanley, J.P. (1956-07-08). "REALISTIC ACTRESS; Betsy Palmer Discusses Her Work on TV". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  2. ^ "The name is Betsy Palmer". The Lima News. 1960-05-03. 
  3. ^ Betsy Palmer Biography
  4. ^ Friday the 13th Reunion Panel, from the Friday the 13th Deluxe Edition DVD (Paramount Home Video)
  5. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 279. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. 
  6. ^ Orange, B. Alan. "EXCLUSIVE: Betsy Palmer Is Friday the 13th's Mrs. Pamela Voorhees!". MovieWeb. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "NETC Online". NETC Online. Retrieved 2013-04-03. 

External links[edit]