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Catherine Coulson, The Quirky 'Log Lady' Of 'Twin Peaks,' Dies At 71


We have a remembrance now of an actress who is not a star but who became something of a pop culture hero. The Log Lady in the cult hit series "Twin Peaks," Catherine Coulson, has died. She was 71. In her most famous role, she wore round glasses and wool cardigans and had an odd attachment to a piece of ponderosa pine. Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: The Log Lady was both wise narrator and village oddball.


CATHERINE COULSON: (As the Log Lady) My log has something to tell you. Do you know it?

DON S. DAVIS: (As Garland Briggs) I don't believe we've been introduced.

COULSON: (As the Log Lady) I do not introduce the log.

BLAIR: Fans of "Twin Peaks" adored her. On Etsy, you can find Log Lady cable-knit sweaters and prints that say, my log has something to tell you. The attention amused Catherine Coulson. Attending a "Twin Peaks" festival in Snoqualmie, Wash., in 1992, she said it was odd seeing her image on a woman's T-shirt.


COULSON: My face on somebody's chest. I turned the other way because I was so overwhelmed at seeing - well, she had very large breasts, and, you know, my cheeks were sort of distorted.

BLAIR: Catherine Coulson first met David Lynch in the 1970s, when she and her then-husband, Jack Nance, led an acting workshop at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Lynch was casting for his eerie, surreal film, "Eraserhead." He hired Nance in the lead, and Coulson became the film's assistant director, even though she'd never worked on a film before.


PETER IVERS: (Singing) In heaven, everything is fine. In heaven…

BLAIR: For a while, Lynch lived with the couple. Money was tight. To help pay for the filming, Lynch delivered newspapers and Coulson waitressed. In an interview, she said they were all each other's best friends, and Lynch clearly felt the same way. It was around this time that he said he had a vision of Coulson cradling a log. More than a decade later, he called her to say he was ready for her to play the woman he imagined all those years ago. He made her one of the most beloved characters in the town of Twin Peaks, where homecoming queen Laura Palmer has just been murdered.


COULSON: (As the Log Lady) I heard you speaking about Laura Palmer.

KYLE MACLACHLAN: (As Dale Cooper) Yes?

COULSON: (As the Log Lady) One day, my log will have something to say about this. My log saw something that night.

BLAIR: Catherine Coulson once said the Log Lady had suffered some trauma in her past, but she was also the only normal person on the show. Here she is again from the "Twin Peaks" festival in 1992.


COULSON: We all want somebody to tell us the secrets of the universe (laughter). And if you can listen to a good piece of ponderosa pine, you know, what the heck? Why not?

BLAIR: In a statement, David Lynch said Catherine Coulson was solid gold and that she had a great sense of humor. He went on to say she was a spiritual person. She was the Log Lady. Elizabeth Blair, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.
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