Betty Sue Palmer Cause of Death: What Killed the Mother of Johnny Depp

Betty Sue Palmer died at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center after a protracted illness at the ripe old age of 81 years. She had played a significant part in Johnny Depp’s upbringing and helped to shape his career. No wonder Johnny Depp went to the 2004 Oscars with his mom when he was nominated for Best Actor for the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

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But what killed the mother of the Hollywood icon? Keep reading to find out.

The First Time Betty Sue Palmer Was Hospitalized

In July 2012, Betty Sue Palmer was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit of the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in the limousine of her famous son. The Los Angeles hospital refused to make public the main reason for Betty Sue Palmer’s hospitalization but many tabloids suspected that it was related to her respiratory system.

However, Depp’s mom, Betty Sue Palmer, was discharged after a few days and was even seen in the company of her son when he got his first Oscar nomination two years later. Betty was in good spirits and in good health until 2016 when the Octogenarian was rushed back to the hospital.

Betty Sue Palmer Cause of Death

However, this time she succumbed to the icy hands of death. The hospital refused to make public the cause of death just as in the first case when she was hospitalized. Once again, many sources attributed her passing to respiratory complications.

Her family held a private memorial service in her memory on June 29, 2016, at her residence in Los Angeles, California. She left behind four children, Daniel Depp, Deborah Johniene Depp (Debbie Depp), Elisa Christie Depp Dembrowski, and John Christopher Depp II popularly known as Johnny Depp.

Betty Sue Palmer’s Biography

She was born in 1935 in Floyd County, Kentucky where she grew up. Her parents were the late Walter Everett and Bessie Whitaker Wells all of Kentucky. Betty Sue’s first husband was John Christopher Depp, the father of Johnny Depp, whom she divorced in 1978. She later married Robert Palmer, however, the couple parted ways in 2000.

Betty Sue Palmer had a rough upbringing as narrated by her son, Johnny Depp, in an interview with Rolling Stone. The Hollywood icon said at the time, “My mother was raised in a shack, in the wilds of Appalachia, where the toilet was an outhouse. She used to say she did the same things that her mom did — and her mom certainly didn’t know any better. With my kids, they’re told 75 times a day that they’re loved. One thing I know is they feel loved and secure and happy and needed and necessary and a part of something.”

While promoting his movie Black Mass, Johnny Depp spoke of how his mom helped him deal with bullies at school in an interview with Nottingham Post. “She’d come from nothing but hillbillies and she said, ‘OK, here’s the deal. Next time anybody puts their hands on you, pick up a brick and lay them out’. And I’ve taken that advice ever since”, concluded the movie star.

Johnny Depp Was Close to His Mom

Johnny and his mom shared a very close bond with the two attending almost all Academy awards where Johnny was nominated. Depp had a tattoo of his mother’s name, Betty Sue, inside a heart on his left arm. He even purchased a 43-acre farm worth $1 million for his mom in her hometown of Kentucky.

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The last time the paparazzi snapped Johnny together with his mom was when he took both his mother and his ex-wife, Amber Heard, to dinner in 2014. Though he has not spoken about it, Johnny’s mother’s passing has left a big hole in his heart that he is finding difficult to fill.

Johnny Depp and Amber Split Up

It is widely believed that the death of Johnny Depp’s mother affected his relationship with his then-wife, Amber Heard, with Heard filing for divorce a few days later after Betty Sue Palmer’s death. The divorce proceedings were finalized in 2017 with Heard walking away with $7 million in the divorce settlement.

The following year, Amber Heard wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post where she referred to Depp as a “wife-beater”, though he didn’t call him by name. Depp sued Heard for defamation in 2022 and won the case after a jury found Heard guilty.

Johnny Depp was awarded $10.5 million in damages while Heard was awarded $2 million as compensation. Maybe if Betty Sue Palmer were alive things may have turned out differently, who knows?!

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