Betsy Palmer, best known for playing Jason Voorhees’ murderous mother in “Friday the 13th,” was only in it for the cash -- but she ended up with some interesting perspectives on the character.
Palmer, who died Friday at age 88, long said that what drew her to 1980's “Friday the 13th” was the paycheck alone: She was offered the role just after her car broke down, and the $10,000 she earned would almost exactly cover the cost of the new Volkswagen Scirocco she wanted, she told reporters over the years.
She put in her 10 days of filming and figured nobody would see the 1980 horror movie, in which she played Camp Crystal Lake chef Pamela Voorhees, whose young son Jason drowned after a pair of canoodling counselors failed to keep an eye on him.
Throughout the film, Mrs. Voorhees stabs and slashes her way through two generations of camp counselors, including one played by a young Kevin Bacon, until she is decapitated with her own machete.
Although she called the script “a piece of dreck,” Palmer said she felt for her character. “I still don't see anything wrong with her except she freaked out at the end,” she told the Chicago Sun Times in 2009.
The movie, of course, turned out to be a wild success. Made for less than $1 million, it grossed nearly $40 million in the U.S. and Canada and spawned an ongoing parade of sequels and spin-offs (a new “Friday the 13th” film is planned for a May 2016 release).
A different actress played Mrs. Voorhees in 2003’s “Freddy vs. Jason,” but Palmer kept attending horror conventions and signing autographs, and she developed a perspective on why Mrs. Voorhees resonated with fans.
“Everybody wants a mother who will kill for you and will die for you — and I do both,” she told the New Jersey Star-Ledger in 2005.
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