Palmer in 1960
|Born||Patricia Betsy Hrunek
November 1, 1926
East Chicago, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||May 29, 2015
Danbury, Connecticut, U.S.
|Cause of death||Natural causes|
|Spouse(s)||Vincent J. Merendino (m. 1954–71)|
|Children||Missy Merendino (b. 1962)|
Betsy Palmer (November 1, 1926 – May 29, 2015) was an American actress, known as a regular panelist on the game show I've Got a Secret, and later for playing the murderous serial killer mother, Pamela Voorhees in the slasher film Friday the 13th.
Palmer was born Patricia Betsy Hrunek in East Chicago, Indiana, the daughter of Marie (née Love), who launched the Chicago Business College, and Rudolph Vincent Hrunek, an industrial chemist who was an immigrant from Czechoslovakia. She graduated from DePaul University, where she studied theater.
Palmer got her first acting job in 1951 when she joined the cast of the 15-minute weekday television 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 Manhattan less than one week.
In 1953, she created the role of Virginia in the original teleplay version of Paddy Chayefsky's Marty. Also in 1953 she appeared in a Studio One television broadcast of Hound Dog Man with Jackie Cooper, and others, aired on the Decade channel, December 26, 2015, from 2:00 AM to 3:15 AM (Credits including cast were not broadcast.) 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 reprise her role in any of the various revivals of the show. Palmer was 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. In the same year she also played Carol Lee Phillips in the film Queen Bee, which starred Joan Crawford.
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." Despite her distaste for the film, she reluctantly 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.
In 1982 Palmer created the role of "Suzanne Becker" on the CBS daytime soap opera As the World Turns. From 1989 to 1990, the actress appeared on Knots Landing as Virginia "Ginny" Bullock, the aunt of Valene Ewing (played by series star Joan Van Ark). Palmer 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.
Palmer married Dr. Vincent J. Merendino on May 8, 1954. Together, the couple had one daughter, Missy Merendino, in 1962. Palmer and her husband divorced in 1971.
|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|
|Isabel's Choice||Ellie Fineman|
|1988||Windmills of the Gods||Mrs. Hart Brisbane|
|Goddess of Love||Hera|
|1992||Still Not Quite Human||Aunt Mildred|
|1999||The Fear: Resurrection||Grandmother|
|2006||Waltzing Anna||Anna Rhoades|
|2007||Bell Witch: The Movie||Bell Witch|
From 1953 to 2001, Palmer was a guest star on 73 television programs, including (in no particular order):
- Just Shoot Me!
- Appointment with Adventure
- Murder, She Wrote
- Out of This World
- Knots Landing (1989–1990)
- Columbo: Death Hits the Jackpot (1991)
- Charles in Charge
- The Love Boat
- Hallmark Hall of Fame
- The Mike Douglas Show
- The Joey Bishop Show
- Toast of the Town
- The $10,000 Pyramid
- Kraft Television Theatre
- Philco Television Playhouse
- Lux Video Theatre
- Janet Dean, Registered Nurse
- Studio One
- The Today Show
- The New Candid Camera
|Fantasporto Film Festival||Special Career Award||Penny Dreadful||Won|
|Golden Raspberry Award||Worst Actress||Friday the 13th||Nominated|
Palmer was also the recipient of the 2005 Major Award from the New England Theatre Conference NETC online for her stage work.
- Shanley, J.P. (1956-07-08). "REALISTIC ACTRESS; Betsy Palmer Discusses Her Work on TV". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
- "The name is Betsy Palmer". The Lima News. 1960-05-03.
- Betsy Palmer Biography
- Friday the 13th Reunion Panel, from the Friday the 13th Deluxe Edition DVD (Paramount Home Video)
- 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.
- Orange, B. Alan. "EXCLUSIVE: Betsy Palmer Is Friday the 13th's Mrs. Pamela Voorhees!". MovieWeb. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- Palmer obituary from Associated Press
- "NETC Online". NETC Online. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Betsy Palmer.|
- Betsy Palmer at the Internet Movie Database
- Betsy Palmer at the Internet Broadway Database
- Betsy Palmer at AllMovie
- An Interview with Betsy Palmer, August 2011