Today the world mourns the loss of Betsy Palmer, a true horror icon. Betsy’s life was full of memorable roles on film and on stage, but she will most lovingly be remembered, I feel, by horror fans across the world as Pamela Voorhees, Jason’s mother in the horror classic, Friday the 13th.
A youthful 88 years old, Betsy has left her many fans with an innumerable collection of favorite moments and memories to keep her spirit alive for generations to come. My first introduction to this vivacious woman was in 2008 at the very first Scarefest horror/paranormal convention in Lexington KY.
My business, Strychnine Sisters, consisting of myself and my partner, Scarlet Strychnine, along with my sister Charlotte, had made the trek to this first time convention to cut our teeth on what I did not know then would become years of conventions. Strychnine had only just begun a few months prior, and yet we found ourselves surrounded by the very best and most seasoned of horror icons. Friday the 13th, being one of the pinnacle horror movies of my childhood, I found myself dropped into a horror fantasy land with Victor Miller, the writer, Harry Manfredini, the composer, Adrienne King, THE final girl, Tom Savini, Mr. Special effects himself, and the effervescent, Betsy Palmer, the beloved Pamela Voorhees.
This being Strychnine’s first convention I had no idea what to expect, but was blown away by the love and comradery between, vendors, celebrities and fans alike! Strychnine spent the days peddling our jewelry and quickly became a favorite among the ladies of horror. With great delight and awe we were befriended and accepted into the fold as each lovely lady took turns to visit our booth. We felt like rock stars ourselves!!
This weekend not only filled Strychnine with the confidence to continue on with our horror themed business, it also introduced me to the love of my life, my future husband. Joshua Hoffine, had also, serendipitously, ventured to Scarefest to showcase his fabulous photography. The photographs along with the photographer caught my eye and my heart. On the final day of the convention, being the busiest woman, Betsy Palmer, herself, had yet to make it to our booth so Josh and I went to pay her a visit and to pay her our due accolades for her prized role.
Being so adored as she was, there were a few fans left vying to pay their respects to her. We watched as she patiently and graciously listened to a fan recount his favorite scenes, acting out line by line her role. At his finish she lovingly and jokingly said “I hope I sounded better than that!” I knew right away I wanted to be Betsy Pamler when I grew up!! She showed herself to be humble, heartfelt, and full of fight in that one moment, and I fell in love! Once done with this interaction she turned to Josh and I and accepted our fawning compliments, and was eager to go and visit the booth her cohorts had been raving about all weekend once I explained who I was.
Betsy immediately rounded her booth and with such motherly instincts grabbed Josh with her left hand and me with her right, and proceeded to walk with us back to see Strychnine’s accessory selection. Along the way she looked at each of us and knowingly asked, “how long have you two been together?” Shocked by this recognition of attraction I was speechless, Josh replied that my boyfriend probably wouldn’t be to keen on that idea. Betsy coyly smiled, again seeing the truth that was clearly not well hidden and again prophetically said “Well, you just never know how these things will work out!”
We eventually made it to the booth where Betsy picked out one of my handmade metal pendants with a moon and bats on it. She immediately put it on and hugged us all. We walked her back to her table we then floated back, squealing delightfully about out interactions with such an awesome icon, and in general, an amazing woman! Believe me when I say, this is a story my husband and I retell every chance we get! The time Betsy Palmer called out our love before we had even acknowledged it, and predicted out eventual union!
Thus ended our very first horror convention and my initial meeting of the great Betsy Palmer. I would have the pleasure of her company a few more times throughout the years and they were never dull. Again in 2008 at Cinema Wasteland, where Betsy had me in stitches chastising a guest for bringing no money and asking for handouts from vendors and celebrities alike, posing the questions “how do you expect these good people to survive on kind words” and “who comes to a show with no money?” As a vendor myself I felt she hit the nail on the head with her commentary and hopefully got the point across to the gentleman who dared to panhandle at Betsy Palmer’s booth!
Betsy continued to show up at conventions I was fortunate enough to be attending and each time greeted me with a kind smile, a warm hug, and always a witty remark. One of our last meetings was at Monster Mania in 2009, where Betsy again flattered me with recognition (I mean come on, she meets thousands of people each year at these shows, so I felt so special to be remembered!). Knowing she would be a guest at this show I had to bring one of my prized horror possessions, the Pamela Voorhees action figure, which she graciously signed for me!
Although the years past quickly between our meetings I never forgot all the fun she brought with her when we did meet. It is with a very heavy heart I say goodbye to this wonderful woman, and send my condolences to all her friends and family. She leaves behind a legacy of kindness, awesomeness and sauciness that will never be forgotten, and for that she will live on!
If you have any favorite Betsy moments, please share them, and give her the fond send off she truly deserves!