Catherine Parks, born Catherine LaBelle on December 10, 1956, is a name that may not immediately ring a bell, but her face is certainly unforgettable. She is best known for her role in the 1982 horror classic “Friday the 13th Part III” as Vera Sanchez. But what has happened to Catherine Parks since her appearance in this iconic film?
Born and raised in Florida, Parks began her career in the limelight not as an actress, but as a beauty queen. She won the titles of Miss Hillsborough County and Miss Florida before becoming a runner-up in the Miss America 1978 pageant. She then attended the University of South Florida, where she majored in theater.
Before her iconic role in “Friday the 13th Part III” in 1982, Catherine Parks had already begun to make her mark in the entertainment industry. She made her acting debut in the 1981 film “Looker,” directed by Michael Crichton, where she played the character Jan. The same year, she also appeared in the TV series “Behind the Screen” as Sally Dundee. In 1982, she expanded her television work with roles in popular series of the time. She played Mitzi Matuso in the long-running soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” and Carole Strickland in the romantic comedy series “The Love Boat.”
Friday the 13th Part 3
In 1982, Parks landed the role that would make her a household name among horror film aficionados. In “Friday the 13th Part III,” she played the character Vera Sanchez.
Vera is one of the group of teenagers who decide to spend the weekend at Higgins Haven, a cabin in the woods near Crystal Lake.
Vera’s character is notable for being the first victim of Jason Voorhees while he is wearing his now-iconic hockey mask. Earlier in the film, another character, Shelly (played by Larry Zerner), uses the mask as part of a prank to scare the other teenagers. After Shelly’s death, Jason takes the mask for himself.
Vera’s death scene is one of the film’s most memorable. While she is looking for Shelly, who had earlier stormed off after a prank gone wrong, she finds his hockey mask floating in the lake. As she picks it up, Jason appears from the water and shoots her in the eye with a speargun, killing her instantly. This scene is particularly notable for its use of 3D effects, as the film was originally released in 3D.
The film was a commercial success and has since become a cult classic, cementing Parks’ place in the annals of horror cinema. In an interview, Parks revealed that she was new to Los Angeles at the time and knew nothing of the previous Friday the 13th films when she auditioned for the part of Vera. She was excited to learn something new and found the prosthetics a lot of fun. In a recent video interview, Parks shared that the 3D filming process was pioneering at the time and presented some challenges, but it also made the shooting experience unique and memorable.
Life After Friday the 13th
Following her memorable role in “Friday the 13th Part III,” Catherine Parks continued to build a diverse acting career. In 1983, she appeared in the TV series “Zorro and Son” as Señorita Anita and in “Trauma Center.” She also had a role in “The New Mike Hammer” in 1984 and “Street Hawk” in 1985. Parks made an appearance in the popular horror anthology series “Tales from the Darkside” in 1986, further cementing her place in the genre.
In 1989, Parks had a busy year with roles in several TV series, including “Hunter,” “Quantum Leap,” and “Empty Nest.” She also appeared in the comedy film “Weekend at Bernie’s” as Tina, Vito’s Girl. Parks continued to work in television into the 1990s, with roles in “Capital News” in 1990 and “The Man in the Family” in 1991.
After a long and varied career, Parks’ last acting credit came in 1993 with the straight to video release, “Body of Influence” where she played the character ‘Helen’.
Despite her continued work in the industry, none of her subsequent roles reached the same level of fame as her character in “Friday the 13th.”
What is Catherine Parks Doing Now?
In 2005, Parks decided to step away from Hollywood and returned to her roots in Tampa, Florida. However, she did not completely abandon her passion for the arts. She continues to pursue various movie and television projects as a writer, producer, and actress. While she may not be as active in front of the camera as she once was, Parks remains a part of the industry she loves. She is very proud to be a part of something that has lasted so long and travels all over the country signing autographs at conventions honoring the cast members, meeting many fans, and having wonderful experiences. She also enjoys participating in fan events like Tampa Bay Screams, where she shares anecdotes from her time on set and interacts with fans.
Catherine is also embarking on an entrepreneurial journey, preparing to introduce her unique line of jewelry bracelets. These products are expected to be accessible online in the near future.
Catherine Parks’ journey from beauty queen to horror film icon is a testament to her versatility as an actress. While she may be best known for her role in “Friday the 13th Part III,” her career spans a variety of roles and genres. Today, she continues to contribute to the world of film and television, proving that her passion for the arts is as strong as ever.