Desiree Gould, a favorite for fans of the horror genre, has died. Best known for her unforgettable role as Aunt Martha in the original Sleepaway Camp, Gould passed away this week, though the exact circumstances of her passing are not clear. Word of her death comes from Gould’s Sleepaway Camp co-star Felissa Rose, who played the lead role of Angela in the cult classic slasher flick. Gould was 76 years old.
“My heart is heavy,” Rose wrote on Twitter. “Today we lost a Sleepaway Camp family member. We all love you Desiree Gould. Thank you for creating such a charismatic and memorable character! Aunt Martha will be forever remembered. Condolences to all your family and friends. Rest easy.”
Another tribute post from Fangoria reads: “It’s the rare performer who can make such an indelible impression with such a brief amount of screen time, but Desiree Gould did just that for an entire generation of horror fans as Sleepaway Camp‘s Aunt Martha. Rest in peace, ma’am.”
Signal 13 Pins, the enamel pin seller that offers an Aunt Martha pin, posted an image of Gould posing with the pin. The tweet reads: “We’re hearing that Desiree Gould, who played Aunt Martha in Sleepaway Camp, has passed away. She was a sweet woman and was delighted that someone immortalized her as a pin. Thank you for such an iconic character and thank you for your kind words.”
“It rare for a brief character in a horror movie to become a cult icon but Desiree Gould stuck with us!! RIP,” posted the Night of the Horrorphile podcast.
“I’m so sad to learn of the passing of Desiree Gould,” a tweet from @Goregeosity reads. “What a gem she was! Her performance in Sleepaway Camp is so interesting and creepy. It had such a strong impact on 12-year-old me and still resonates today. May she rest well.”
And Horror Geek Mel on Twitter added, “R.I.P. Desiree Gould gave my favorite Sleepaway Camp performance as the wonderfully quirky Aunt Martha.”
Clearly, Gould is especially loved in the horror community, though her work extended outside of the genre as well. She made her screen debut in the 1979 TV movie You Can’t Go Home Again and appeared in television shows like One Life to Live, The Edge of Night, and Love of Life. She put her acting career on pause to pursue work in real estate after Sleepaway Camp, but she returned to acting in the 2006 movie Under Surveillance, reuniting with Felissa Rose. She also had a role in the 2014 horror anthology Tales of Poe.
Desiree Gould spoke about her role in Sleepaway Camp in various documentaries about the movie. Prior to her passing, she was set to revisit the movie for the upcoming documentary Angela. She was only featured in a limited capacity in the movie, but because of the unique way she played the part, fans remember Aunt Martha as one of the slasher movie genre’s most memorable characters of all time.