‘Friday the 13th’: Late ’50s star killer cook Betsy Palmer once called the horror storyline ‘a piece of dreck’

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Betsy Palmer was horrified when she first read the script for what would become an iconic franchise – for a very different reason.

The 1950s TV star, who would later star as the murderous camp cook in 1980s ‘Friday the 13th,’ called the script a “bit of a dreck” before deciding to tackle the slasher.

Although she believed no one would see the film, the actress agreed to play Mrs. Voorhees because she needed a new car.

“I had a Mercedes, which I had for several years, and it broke down on the Connecticut Turnpike,” recalled Palmer, who died in 2015 at the age of 88, as quoted by The Hollywood. Postpone. “So I was like, ‘I need a new car, universe.'”


Betsy Palmer had appeared in movies, on Broadway and on TV shows for decades before she starred as Mrs. Voorhees in the 1980 film in which young camp counselors suddenly begin to meet their bloody death.
(Jim Smeal/Ron Galella collection via Getty Images)

Playing Jason’s mother turned out to be a big deal for Palmer, who then went shopping and found a Volkswagen Scirocco she liked. But taking on a horror movie proved to be a tough sell.

“So the phone rang and my agent said, ‘How would you like to do the movie? ‘” Palmer recalls. “And I said, ‘Great. This will pay for the car I want to buy. “”

“…So the script came and I read it and I said, ‘What a piece of s—. No one will ever see that. It will come. And it will. And I’ll have my Scirocco,'” she shared.

Palmer carved his way to new fame. In the film, she played Chief Pamela Voorhees of Camp Crystal Lake, whose son Jason drowned after a pair of canoodling counselors failed to watch him. At the end, she is decapitated with her machete.


A young Kevin Bacon starred in "Friday 13."

A young Kevin Bacon starred in “Friday the 13th.”
(Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)

Palmer took 10 days of filming and got his $10,000 paycheck.

While “Friday the 13th” was made for less than $1 million, it grossed nearly $6 million in its opening weekend. It grossed nearly $40 million in the United States and Canada. The film launched a wildly successful franchise, as well as comic books, video games, and a TV series, among others.

Another actress played Ms. Voorhees in 2003’s “Freddy vs. Jason.” Palmer, however, has kept busy over the years by attending conventions and signing autographs for fans.

“Everyone wants a mother who will kill for you and die for you — and I do both,” she told the New Jersey Star-Ledger in 2005.


Betsy Palmer, seen here in 1955, died in 2015 aged 88.

Betsy Palmer, seen here in 1955, died in 2015 aged 88.
(Getty Images)

Before Mrs. Voorhees, Palmer appeared in movies, on Broadway and on TV shows for decades.

Palmer had appeared on numerous television shows dating back to the golden age of television in the early 1950s. Among them were classic dramas such as “Kraft Theatre”, “Playhouse 90” and “Studio One”.

His film credits included “Mr. Roberts” with Henry Fonda, “The Long Gray Line” with Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara, “Queen Bee” with Joan Crawford, and “The Tin Star” with Fonda and Anthony Perkins.

Other TV credits include “Knots Landing”, “The Love Boat”, “Newhart”, “Just Shoot Me”, and “Murder, She Wrote”. She also appeared in several Broadway plays, including “Same Time, Next Year” and “Cactus Flower.”

Palmer died of natural causes at a Connecticut hospice. She is survived by her daughter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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