Actress who played Jason Voorhees’ mom dies at age 88

Betsy Palmer, the movie and television actress who played Jason Voorhees’ psychopathic mom and Camp Crystal Lake cook in the original Friday the 13th movie, died on Friday at the age of 88.

Palmer had a long career prior to playing Pamela Voorhees in the 1980 film, dating back to the early 1950s with guest appearances on TV and roles in the 1955 movies Death Tide, The Long Gray Line, Queen Bee and Mister Roberts.

She said in the documentary Return to Crystal Lake: Making Friday the 13th that she agreed to play Pamela Voorhees in the film because she wanted money to buy a car and figured no one would ever see the movie.

“And they wanted this goody-two-shoes type to play this surprise ending killer,” she said in an interview reprinted for an obit in the Northwest Indiana Times. “When I drove up to the real summer camp where the film was being shot in New Jersey and I saw the sign for ‘Camp Crystal Lake,’ I took that as a good luck omen since as a girl, I had spent my summers at at Crystal Lake in Warsaw, Ind.”

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at and I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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