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Gary Green

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 

...When I Met Betsy Palmer, Also Known as Mrs. Voorhees

the 2006 Game Show Congress (yes, there is such a thing) was held last week in Burbank, the highlight being a live version of "What's My Line?" featuring the one and only Betsy Palmer, who sat on the panel of the original "I've Got a Secret" from 1957 to 1967.

To baby boomers, Betsy Palmer is probably best known for "Secret." For soap fans, she may be best known for her two seasons playing Aunt Ginny on "Knots Landing." There have also been numerous roles in television and feature films over the years.

But to anyone whose adolescent and teen years coincide with the 70's and 80's, Betsy Palmer is and always will be best known for hacking to death a half dozen horny camp counselors as the vengeful, knife-wielding Mrs. Voorhees in the original Friday the 13th (her son took over the killing in Part Deux).

She said she originally took the role which paid her $10,000 because she needed to buy a car, and of course, had no idea how memorable her portrayal of the seemingly benign and rather cooky groundskeeper would become. She was asked to re-create the role several times for sequels throughout the next 25 yeras, but always declined. Really, though, what could she do in any sequel that would top her grisly demise at the end of the original Friday the 13th? (innocent, viringal Adrienne Leon decapitates her in the woods with a rusty machette, and you know I didn't sleep that night!)

At eighty years old, she was still by far the sharpest member of the panel, and got the most laughs, especially when summing up mystery guest, Shirley Jones with the line, "Boy, are you an old one!" From the look on Shirley's face, Betsy was probably lucky there wasn't a rusty machette around. Incidentally, the B&W photo in the background is of "What's My Line's?" most celebrated panel configuration, Bennet Cerf, Arlene Francis and Dorothy Kilgalen, along with frequent rotating panelist Joey Bishop, and the show's host, John Charles Daly. It is now in my closet awaiting a suitable frame.

It's the "rusty" machete that made it bad.. you know.

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