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Then & Now: Betsy Russell

07.26.2013by: Salacious Crumb

Time: the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. Hey friends! Well, it's the middle of summer, our brains are fried, and some high schoolers are off at camp! Seems like this should be some sort of segway into a column based on actress involved with "camp" movies. Or perhaps just "campy" horror movies? Well, let's just jump into it and reminisce the wonder years of a lost hottie who just made the cut for the "Top 10 Sexiest Ladies of the '80's", Betsy Russell.

Awwwww yeeaaahh! Mega '80's hottie Betsy Russell was born and raised in San Diego, California, and her first acting gig was in a Pepsi commercial during high school. In 1982, she landed her first film role in some flick called LET'S DO IT!, which is ironically a new pick-up line I've been trying out. This was the same year she got a couple acting gigs on "T.J. Hooker" and "Family Ties". But her big break, and frankly the only reason I'm writing this article, was in the 1983 teen sex-comedy PRIVATE SCHOOL (1983).

The early '80's era saw many films in a genre called 'teen sex-comedies", a genre which seemed to  disappear in the '90's, but has spawned many shameless imitators. FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and PORKY'S had come out in 1982, and due to their success, Hollywood started producing as many sex-based, teen comedies as possible. One of the first of these was PRIVATE SCHOOL, starring FAST TIME's topless Phoebe Cates, who was out very first "Then & Now" hottie, almost exactly a year ago. PRIVATE SCHOOL also introduced the horny teen world to a topless Betsy Russell. And my god, what an introduction it was...

It's tough to put into words exactly how I feel Russell. She's obviously attractive, and she may have single-handedly gotten me through puberty, but she never seemed to strike a chord with the critics (despite many opportunites to do so). Her 15-minutes-of-fame, stretched out into nearly a decade, was a wildfire which sparked from one of the most luscious performances of all time, in PRIVATE SCHOOL. Maybe Betsy Russell's fame was due entirely to her ability to be hot, but that doesn't mean she didn't make her mark. When I was a teenager, having had knowledge of porn, this non-nude scene from PRIVATE SCHOOL was the sexiest thing I'd ever seen at the time, despite the guy dressed as a woman...

Words cannot describe the awesomeness of this clip.

So once your career has seen lift-off due to such a tremendously sexy role, how do you move forward while keeping the general public interested? Well, you portray an innocent high school student-turned crime-fighting street prostitute, of course! I'm referring to Betsy portraying the crime-fighting teen prostitute in AVENGING ANGEL (1985), replacing Donna Wilkes in the sequel to ANGEL (1984). This was the same year Betsy landed another starring role as Tomasina "Tommy" Boyd in TOMMY BOY TOMBOY. Of course, these films were both probably nothing more than mere excuses to get Betsy into some cute, little outfits.

While the mid-'80's seemed to fly by for Betsy, and with the highlight of her career still being magnificent eye-candy in PRIVATE SCHOOL, Betsy wasn't about to give up just yet. There was still plenty of wiggle room to come out of the decade as a shining cheesy, camp-horror movie actress. So she took that shot by starring in a low-budget film with perhaps one of the most awesomely campy horror titles ever: CHEERLEADER CAMP (1987).

OH MY DEAR GOD... Check out that underboob!

Give me "K"! Give me an "I"! Give me an "L"! Give me an "L"! Once you hear a title like CHEERLEADER CAMP, it's hard not to be at least a little bit intrigued, but it's when you discover that it's an '80's psychological horror that you're hooked for good. This is a must-see for fans of the genre, but if you're hoping to catch more of a topless Betsy Russell riding a horse, you'll likely be underwhelmed. Just keep waring out the tape on that VHS copy of PRIVATE SCHOOL.

Betsy went on to star in another camp-based, cheesy horror film called CAMP FEAR (1991), as well as the even more cheesily-titled action flick DELTA HEAT. Chances are those titles don't even ring your bell, and the same could be said for just about all of the following decade of Betsy's filmography. So what happened? One minute, Betsy's the hottest thing the world has seen on the silver screen, and the next, she vanishes like a sexy '80's phantom? Did she eat a lifetime supply of Twinkies in one sitting? Was she an intolerable drug-addict who's currently shooting up in a Los Angeles alleyway? Well, let's find out what this woman of my teenage dreams has been up to as of late.

Oh. Yeah. Right. Tha SAW movies. How is it that I spent so many hours day-dreaming about Betsy's PRIVATE SCHOOL performance, yet I never realized she was also Jigsaw's ex-wife? I didn't make that connection. Betsy portrayed Jill Tuck in five of the seven SAW films, so I guess that "campy horror" hottie image payed off in the long run, after all.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to uncover any photos of Betsy after 2011 (at least none that specifically stated so), but with all the awesome pics already occupying this page, I can't imagine why anyone would complain. If it makes you feel better, here are some more pics of Betsy Russell taken in the recent years...

I'm quite anxious to find out how you schmoes feel about Betsy Russell, whether as a nostalgic piece of '80's awesomeness, or as a current horror diva. Considering the effect she had on my early teens, it's quite strange to see how her career ended up. Aside from the SAW movies, Betsy has recently starred in the dramatic piece MY TRIP BACK TO THE DARK SIDE (2012), and had a small role in this year's underground zomb-com KNOCK 'EM DEAD. Whether you think she's still got it or not, Betsy is well-deserving of a spot on the Hottiewood walk-of-fame. Wherever you are, Betsy, thanks for the memories, and for breaking my VHS player!

Extra Tidbit: Which hottie from the past would you like to visit in a time-traveling DeLorean?


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