Betsy Palmer (born Patricia Betsy-Hrunek; November 1, 1926 - died May 29, 2015) was an American actress, best known for being a regular panelists on I've Got a Secret and later for playing female serial killer Pamela Voorhees in the slasher flick Friday the 13th.
Life and Career
As mentioned above, Palmer was born Patricia Betsy-Hrunek in Eastern Chicago, Indiana, the daughter of Marie (nee Love) who headed the Chicago Business College and Vincent R. Hrunek, an industrial chemist who was an immigrant from Czechoslovakia. Palmer graduated from DePaul University, where she studied theater. Palmer married Dr. Vincent J. Merendino on May 8, 1954; the couple had only one daughter, Missy (b. 1962) they divorced in 1971.
Palmer got her first acting job in 1951 where she joined the cast of a 15 minute long, daily soap opera, Miss Susan, which was produced in Philadelphia. Palmer was "discovered" for this role while enjoying a party in the apartment of actor Frank Sutton (Gunnery Sergeant Frank Vince Carter of Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.). Palmer had been in New York City for less than one week.
A life member of The Actors Studio, Palmer's stage work included a tour of South Pacific (as Neille Forbush) and the title role in Maggie, a 1953 musicalization of What Every Woman Knows.
Palmer would later become a familiar face on television as a long-running panelist member of 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. Palmer did not subsequently reprised her role in any various revivals of the show.
Palmer appeared as Kitty Carter in The Long Gray Line (1955), starring Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara. Palmer also played Nurse Lt. Ann Girard (the main female character) in the all-star cast of the classic film Mister Roberts (1955), which starred Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, and James Cagney. Palmer 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 Stewart in the film The True Story of Lynn Stewart 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. Palmer recounted, in an interview, that her initial reaction to the experience was "What a piece of s*it! Nobody was ever going to see this thing". Despite her distaste for the film, she consented to a cameo appearance in Friday the 13th Part 2. Palmer 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 (albeit not the real Pamela but Freddy pretending to be Pamela) in Freddy vs. Jason in 2003, but turned it down, reportedly due to the low remuneration she was offered.
Some Fans say that putting Freddy and Pamela together is better and that they are both unique serial killers, Freddy for killing people in their dreams and Pamela for being a female killer.
Palmer created the role of "Suz Becker" on the CBS daytime soap opera As the World Turns from 1991 until 1992, the actress appeared in Knotts Landing, as Virginia "Ginny" Bullock, the aunt of Valerie Ewing (played by series star Joan Van Ark).
Palmer acted in a Mayfield Dinner Theater production of On Golden Pond in Edmonton, Alberta in 1997, In 2005, Palmer appeared in the horror short Penny Dreadful and in 2007 as the older version of the title character in Waltzing Anna. Palmer provided the voice of the title character, the ghost of a witch, in the 2007 horror film Bell Witch: The Movie.
Palmer died on May 29, 2015, of natural causes at a hospice care center in Danbury, Connecticut, her longtime manager, Brad Lemack, told The Associated Press on May 31, 2015. She is survived by her daughter.
Palmer was the recipient of the 2005 Major Awards from the New England Theater Conference NETC online for her stage work.
Wheel of Fortune (1952-53)
I've Got a Secret
What's it For?
What's My Line?
The Price is Right
To Tell the Truth
You're Putting Me On (unaired pilot/1969)
The (New) $25,000 Pyramid