It is our sad news to report that Catherine E. Coulson, who played the iconic role of Margaret Lanterman, better known as the Log Lady on the cult 1990-91 television series Twin Peaks, as well as a brief cameo in the prequel film Fire Walk With Me, passed away from cancer on Monday, September 28, 2015. She was 71. Aside from Twin Peaks, Coulson has appeared in numerous plays for Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Most recently she also appeared in an episode of Portlandia.
Coulson described the Log Lady as the “only normal person on the show,” despite the fact that she talked to a piece of wood that only she could hear. Despite only appearing in a dozen or so episodes of the show in brief appearances as a kind of mystic oracle, she became emblematic of the quirky nature of the show. In fact, she was one of its most iconic characters, appearing on all kinds of Twin Peaks paraphernalia, like t-shirts, mugs and trading cards. She reprised her role for a series of mini- introductions to each episode of Twin Peaks for syndication, written and directed by David Lynch, the first of which you can watch below.
Coulson and Twin Peaks co-creator David Lynch go way back. She first appeared in his short film The Amputee, and later worked with Lynch as assistant director on his debut feature film Eraserhead, which starred her then-husband Jack Nance, who would later play the part of Pete Martell on Twin Peaks. It’s on the set of Eraserhead where Coulson and Lynch began discussing the idea of a woman who carried a log around at all times. Lynch actually talked to Coulson about creating a movie or television show for this character called “I’ll Test Your Log With Every Branch of My Knowledge.” Nothing came of it, but Lynch remembered the character, and years later resurrected her for his television show Twin Peaks.
Catherine Coulson was always proud of her contribution to the series and her place in pop culture history, and was always gracious to fans at the many Twin Peaks fan festivals she attended. She kept the original log from the series in case Twin Peaks ever came back, and she was indeed scheduled to return as her character for the 2017 revival of the series on Showtime, which is currently shooting in Washington State. David Lynch released the following statement about his longtime friend: