Horror franchise Friday the 13th is celebrated for its abundance of beautiful ladies, most of whom quickly meet a sticky end – and one surefire way to provoke the wrath of masked madman Jason Voorhees is to go for a spontaneous skinny dip. The first Friday the 13th character to do just that was Terry, played by Kirsten Baker in 1981’s Friday the 13th Part 2.

Baker’s performance – not to mention her Mickey Mouse crop top and tiny Daisy Duke shorts – made her a fan favourite and early crush for many devotees of the slasher movie series. After Friday the 13th Part 2, Baker took only a few more acting roles before disappearing into obscurity, until enduring fan interest eventually lured her onto social media and the convention circuit.

Kirsten Baker was born on April 7, 1960 in Songnefjord, Norway. She was adopted by American family the Bakers at six weeks old, and subsequently raised in California. Originally holding ambitions of attending art school, Baker decided to try her hand at modelling and acting in her late teens in the hopes of raising money to pay her way.

After a couple of TV roles, Baker was poised to make her first film appearance in 1978’s Jaws 2. Unfortunately, while she filmed scenes for the blockbuster sequel, these wound up being left on the cutting room floor.

Instead, Baker’s first official movie role was in Teen Lust. The film (directed by seasoned actor James Hong) was originally called The Girl Next Door, and Baker says the title change was “entirely unfair, because it was an innocent summer movie,” rather than the sleazy adult picture the title implies.

Even so, raunchy teen movies were all the rage at the tail end of the 70s in the wake of Animal House. Baker continued to find work in films of that nature, including California Dreaming, Gas Pump Girls and Midnight Madness. She also made a small, uncredited appearance in Cruising, the controversial 1980 thriller starring Al Pacino.

Another teen-oriented genre making an impact at the box office at the time was, of course, the slasher movie. 1980’s Friday the 13th proved an unexpectedly big hit, earning almost $60 million off a $550,000 budget, so studio Paramount quickly got to work on a sequel.

Friday the 13th Part 2 was, in many respects, the real starting place for the long-running series, as it saw Jason – the dead boy whose mother seeks to avenge his death in the first film – return from the grave as the central killer.

Landing the role of Terry wasn’t too hard for Baker; she recalls, “they already knew about me… they asked for me and hired me on the spot.” Cameras rolled in October 1980 in Connecticut, and like the first film, the sequel follows a team of young adults working at a summer camp, unaware that a killer waits for them in the woods.

Of course, the fact that the film was set in summer yet shot in the fall posed some significant issues – not least the fact that it wasn’t actually warm. This proved a particular challenge for the then-21-year-old Baker.

On top of having some of the skimpiest outfits in the movie, Baker was also tasked with performing the film’s one key nude scene: the aforementioned skinny dip, which was shot on location at night at Connecticut’s Spectacle Lake.

The actress recalled at 2021’s Days of the Dead convention in Chicago that she had to go into the lake “five times… to rehearse it, to block it, to redo another take. It was the first day we had snow… it was December 1st. They blew me dry with a jet engine.”

As Terry, Baker was the first Friday the 13th character to go skinny dipping, and this soon became a staple of the series (similar scenes followed in fourth film Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood and Freddy vs. Jason, whilst 2009’s Friday the 13th reboot upped the ante with a topless wakeboarding scene). However, another staple of Friday the 13th is graphic death scenes, and this is surprisingly one thing that Baker was not called upon to perform.

A stalking sequence ends with Terry screaming into the camera, implying her death is imminent – yet the moment itself is not seen and the precise nature of her death is left ambiguous (although her corpse is seen later).

Baker admits being disappointed she didn’t get a proper on-camera death, blaming this on “a continuity problem in the script.” She recalls that in the final days of shooting, director Steve Miner said, “‘we don’t have the finances or the time, and it’s getting cold, we can’t show her death.’ So we had to wing it, really. They just threw me on the top of a heap of bodies… it could’ve been better.”

All in all, the Friday the 13th Part 2 ensemble look back on the experience with great fondness. They all remain friendly today, while Baker has said the cast remain like family. Baker also rubbed off on her co-stars Amy Steel and Lauren Marie Taylor: both impressed by Baker’s athleticism, they credit her with inspiring them to take up running.

L-R: Kirsten Baker with Friday the 13th Part 2 co-stars John Furey, Amy Steel, Russell Todd, Lauren Marie Taylor and Bill Randolph (credit: KirstenBaker13 Facebook)

First hitting screens on May 1, 1981, Friday the 13th Part 2 didn’t prove quite so big a box office hit as the original (earning $21.7 million off a $1.25 million budget), but it has long been a favourite among fans of the series.

Sadly, while some Friday the 13th actors went on to stardom (most notably Kevin Bacon), this didn’t happen for Baker: her next two films, sci-fi horror Sector 13 and cannibal movie Please Don’t Eat the Babies, wound up unreleased, although footage from the latter film was later repurposed into a different film, Island Fury. After taking a small role in 1987 Nick Nolte movie Weeds, Baker never appeared on film again.

Details on what she did next are thin on the ground. Reports state that she continued modelling for a time, and she was spotted working in an art gallery in 1993. Beyond this, Baker returned to the public eye in a minor capacity between 2002 and 2003, when she was reportedly arrested for driving under the influence on several occasions.

Credit: Mugshots.com/KirstenBaker13 Facebook

Happily, the two decades since have seen no reports of further arrests, and recent years have seen Baker embrace horror fandom, maintaining a social media profile and making appearances at fan conventions. Just to make sure she’s that bit more recognisable, the former actress often attends events wearing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt similar to the one she famously wore as Terry in Friday the 13th Part 2.

While her acting days seem far behind her, Baker has noted that, considering Terry wasn’t definitively killed off on camera, there is always the possibility she could return. Asked where her character could be now, Baker joked in 2021, “I’m in a shack in the woods, and I didn’t die.”