Julie Newmar

Julie Newmar (born Julia Chalene Newmeyer, August 16, 1933) is an American actress, dancer, and singer, known for a variety of stage, screen, and television roles as well as a writer, lingerie inventor, and real estate mogul. She won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role as Katrin Sveg in the 1958 Broadway production of The Marriage-Go-Round, and reprised the role in the 1961 film version. In the 1960s, she starred for two seasons as Catwoman in the television series Batman (1966–1967). Her other stage credits include the Ziegfeld Follies in 1956, and playing Lola in Damn Yankees! (1961) and Irma in Irma la Douce (1965) in regional productions.

Julie Newmar
Newmar in 1965
Born
Julia Chalene Newmeyer

(1933-08-16) August 16, 1933
Occupation
  • Actress
  • dancer
  • singer
  • businesswoman
  • writer
Years active1952–present
Height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)[1]
Spouse(s)
J. Holt Smith
(m. 1977; div. 1984)
Children1
Websitejulienewmar.com

Newmar appeared in the music video for George Michael's 1992 single "Too Funky", and had a cameo as herself in the 1995 film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. Her voice work includes the animated feature films Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016) and Batman vs. Two-Face (2017), where she reprised her role as Catwoman 50 years after the original television series.

Early life

Newmar was born on August 16, 1933 in Los Angeles, California, the eldest of three children born to Don and Helen (Jesmer) Newmeyer. Her father was head of the Physical Education Department at Los Angeles City College and had played American football professionally in the 1920s with the 1926 Los Angeles Buccaneers of the National Football League. Her Swedish-French mother was a fashion designer who used Chalene as her professional name and later became a real-estate investor.[2]

Newmar has two younger brothers, Peter Bruce Newmeyer (born 1935)[3] and John A. Newmeyer (born 1940), a writer, epidemiologist, and winemaker.[4][5] She began dancing at an early age, and performed as a prima ballerina with the Los Angeles Opera beginning at age fifteen.[6]

Career

Early work

Newmar began appearing in bit parts and uncredited roles in films as dancers, including a part as the "dancer-assassin" in Slaves of Babylon (1953) and the "gilded girl" in Serpent of the Nile (1953), in which she was clad in gold paint. She danced in several other films, including The Band Wagon (also 1953) and Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954). She also worked as a choreographer and dancer for Universal Studios beginning at age nineteen.[7][8] Her first major role, billed as Julie Newmeyer, was as Dorcas, one of the brides in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (also 1954). Her three-minute Broadway appearance as the leggy Stupefyin' Jones in the musical Li'l Abner in 1956 led to a reprise in the film version released in 1959. She was also the female lead in a low-budget comedy, The Rookie (also 1959).[9]

Newmar had first appeared on Broadway in 1955 in Silk Stockings which starred Hildegarde Neff and Don Ameche. She also appeared in the film, The Marriage-Go-Round (1961), which starred James Mason and Susan Hayward (Newmar had earlier developed the role of the Swedish vixen onstage and won a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress for the Broadway version upon which the film was based). She later appeared on stage with Joel Grey in the national tour of Stop the World - I Want to Get Off and as Lola in Damn Yankees! and Irma in Irma La Douce.[9] and in Mackenna's Gold (1969).[10] She also appeared in a pictorial in the May 1968 issue of Playboy magazine, which featured Playmate Elizabeth Jordan.

Television work

Newmar's fame stems mainly from her television appearances. Her statuesque form made her a larger-than-life sex symbol, most often cast as a temptress or Amazonian beauty, including an early appearance in sexy maid costume on The Phil Silvers Show. She starred as Rhoda the Robot on the television series My Living Doll (1964–1965), and is known for her recurring role on the 1960s television series Batman as the villainess Catwoman. (Lee Meriwether played Catwoman in the 1966 feature film and Eartha Kitt in the series' final season.) Newmar modified her Catwoman costumenow in the Smithsonian Institutionand placed the belt at the hips instead of the waist to emphasize her hourglass figure.[11]

In 1962, Newmar appeared twice as motorcycle-riding, free-spirited heiress Vicki Russell on Route 66, filmed in Tucson, Arizona ("How Much a Pound is Albatross") and in Tennessee ("Give the Old Cat a Tender Mouse"). She guest-starred on The Twilight Zone as the devil in "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", F Troop as an Indian princess, Bewitched ("The Eight-Year Itch Witch" in 1971) as a cat named Ophelia given human form, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Get Smart as a double agent assigned to Maxwell Smart's apartment posing as a maid. In 1967, she guest-starred as April Conquest in an episode of The Monkees ("Monkees Get Out More Dirt"), and was the pregnant Capellan princess, Eleen, in the Star Trek episode "Friday's Child". In 1969, she played a hit-woman in the It Takes a Thief episode "The Funeral is on Mundy" with Robert Wagner. In 1983, she reprised the hit-woman role on Hart to Hart, Wagner's later television series, in the episode "A Change of Hart". Both performances with Wagner included full-body grappling ending with Wagner lying on top of Newmar. In the 1970s, she had guest roles on Columbo and The Bionic Woman.[12]

Later roles

Newmar appeared in several low-budget films during the next two decades. She guest-starred on TV, appearing on The Love Boat, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, CHiPs and Fantasy Island. She was seen in the music video for George Michael's "Too Funky" in 1992, and appeared as herself in a 1996 episode of Melrose Place.[12]

In 2003, Newmar appeared as herself in the television movie Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt alongside former Batman co-stars Adam West, Burt Ward, Frank Gorshin and Lee Meriwether.[13] Julia Rose played Newmar in flashbacks to the production of the television series.[14] However, due to longstanding rights issues over footage from the Batman TV series, only footage of Meriwether taken from the feature film was allowed to be used in the television movie.[15] In 2016, she provided the voice of Catwoman in the animated film Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. Newmar also appeared on The Home and Family Show in May 2016, where she met Gotham actress Camren Bicondova who portrays a younger Selina Kyle.[16]

Entrepreneur

In the 1970s, Newmar received two U.S. patents for pantyhose[17] and one for a brassiere.[18] The pantyhose were described as having "cheeky derriere relief" and promoted under the name "Nudemar". The brassiere was described as "nearly invisible" and in the style of Marilyn Monroe.[19]

Newmar began investing in Los Angeles real estate in the 1980s. A women's magazine stated, "Newmar is partly responsible for improving the Los Angeles neighborhoods on La Brea Avenue and Fairfax Avenue near the Grove."[20]

Personal life

Newmar married J. Holt Smith, a lawyer, on August 5, 1977, and moved with him to Fort Worth, Texas, where she lived until their divorce in 1984.[1] She has one child, John Jewl Smith (born February 1981), who has a hearing impairment and Down syndrome.[21]

Newmar was thought to have Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, an inherited neurological condition that affects 1 in 2,500 Americans.[22], however, genetic testing at Duke University documented that she did not have the condition.[23] A legal battle with her neighbor, actor Jim Belushi, ended amicably with an invitation to guest-star on his sitcom According to Jim in an episode ("The Grumpy Guy") that poked fun at the feud. An avid gardener, Newmar initiated at least a temporary ban on leaf blowers with the Los Angeles City Council.[24]

Newmar has been a vocal supporter of LGBT rights; her brother, John Newmeyer, is gay.[6] In 2013, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing (GLEH) organization in Los Angeles.[6]

The film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995) pays homage to the actress; Newmar herself makes a cameo appearance near the film's ending.[12] In 2012, Bluewater Comics released a four-issue comic miniseries entitled The Secret Lives of Julie Newmar.[25]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1952She's Working Her Way Through CollegeJulieUncredited
1952Just for YouChorineUncredited
1953The I Don't Care GirlSpecialty DancerUncredited
1953Serpent of the NileGilded GirlUncredited
1953The Farmer Takes a WifeDancerUncredited
1953The Band WagonSalon Model / Chorine in Girl Hunt BalletUncredited
1953Slaves of BabylonDancer-Assassin
1953The Eddie Cantor StoryShowgirlUncredited
1954Demetrius and the GladiatorsPrimary Specialty DancerUncredited
1954Seven Brides for Seven BrothersDorcas
1959Li'l AbnerStupefyin' Jones
1959The RookieLili Marlene
1961The Marriage-Go-RoundKatrin SvegNominated - Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer
1963For Love or MoneyBonnie Brasher
1969Mackenna's GoldHesh-Ke
1969The Maltese BippyCarlotta Ravenswood
1970Up Your Teddy BearToy Company Director, a.k.a. "Mother"
1972A Very Missing PersonAleatha WesteringTelevision film
1972The Feminist and the FuzzLilah McGuinessTelevision film
1977TerracesChalane TurnerTelevision film
1983HystericalVenetia
1984Love ScenesBelinda
1985Streetwalkin'Queen Bee
1985Evils of the NightDr. Zarma
1987Real Men
1988Deep SpaceLady Elaine Wentworth
1988Nudity RequiredIrina
1988Body Beat
1989Cyber-C.H.I.C.Miss McKenzieAlso known as Dance Academy
1990Ghosts Can't Do ItAngel
1994OblivionMiss Kitty
1995To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie NewmarHerself
1996Oblivion 2: BacklashMiss Kitty
1999If... Dog... Rabbit...Judy's Mother
2003Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and BurtHerself/Arizona Bar OwnerTelevision film
2010Beautiful DarlingHerselfDocumentary
2012Bettie Page Reveals AllHerselfDocumentary
2012The Mechanical BrideHerself, narratorDocumentary
2013Broadway: Beyond the Golden AgeHerselfDocumentary
2016Batman: Return of the Caped CrusadersCatwoman
(voice)
2017Batman vs. Two-FaceCatwoman
(voice)

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1957The Phil Silvers ShowSuzie1 episode
1961The DefendersBrandy Gideon Morfoot1 episode
1962Route 66Vicki Russell2 episodes
1963The Twilight ZoneMiss Devlin1 episode
1964–1965My Living DollRhoda MillerNominated - Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star – Female
1966F TroopCinthia Jeffries / Yellow Bird1 episode
1966The Beverly HillbilliesUlla Bergstrom1 episode
1966–1967BatmanCatwoman13 episodes
1966The MonkeesApril Conquest1 episode
1967Star Trek: The Original SeriesEleen1 episode
1968It Takes a ThiefSusannah Sutton1 episode
1968Get SmartIngrid1 episode
1970McCloudAdrienne Redman1 episode
1970–1972Love, American StyleVarious4 episodes
1971BewitchedOphelia1 episode
1973ColumboLisa Chambers1 episode
1975McMillan & WifeLuciana Amaldi1 episode
1976The Bionic WomanClaudette1 episode
1976Monster SquadUltra Witch1 episode
1978Jason of Star CommandQueen Vanessa1 episode
1979Buck Rogers in the 25th CenturyZarina1 episode
1979The Love BoatMarla Samms1 episode
1982CHiPsCora Dwayne1 episode
1982The Powers of Matthew StarNian1 episode
1983Fantasy IslandDoralee1 episode
1983Hart to Hart Eve1 episode
2006According to JimJulie1 episode
2010Batman: The Brave and the BoldMartha Wayne1 episode

Stage credits

References

  1. Demaret, Kent (September 12, 1977). "At 42, Julie Newmar Takes Her First Husband, and a Texas Lawyer Gets His Own Living Doll". People. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  2. Min, Janice (October 16, 1995). "Feline Groovy". People. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  3. 1940 United States Federal Census for Los Angeles County, California, accessed on ancestry.com on 26 January 2013
  4. Newmeyer family genealogy site, newmeyer.com; accessed October 10, 2014.
  5. Strider, Chris (2000). Swingin' Chicks of the '60s. Cedco Press. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-768-32232-3.
  6. Huqueriza, Chris (January 15, 2013). "Julie Newmar, Original Catwoman, Receives LGBT Award". South Florida Gay News. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  7. "Julie Newmar". Biography.com. The Biography Channel. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  8. "Bruce Edwin Interview Julie Newmar". The Hollywood Sentinel. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  9. Julie Newmar at the Internet Broadway Database
  10. Thomas, Nick (August 4, 2016). "Julie Newmar on aging beautifully". The Spectrum. USA Networks. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
  11. Moore, Booth (January 24, 2011). "Catching up with the original Catwoman, Julie Newmar". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  12. Julie Newmar on IMDb
  13. "'Return To The Batcave'". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  14. "Julie Newmar and Batman Comments: Original Catwoman Sounds Off". www.christianpost.com. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  15. Nolasco, Stephanie (2018-01-09). "Catwoman Lee Meriwether recalls steamy on-set kiss with 'Batman' star Adam West". Fox News. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  16. "TV's Catwoman Camren Bicondova & Julie Newmar - Home & Family". The Hallmark Channel. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  17. US 3914799, Julie Newmar, "Pantyhose with shaping band for cheeky derriere relief", issued 1975-10-28
    US 4003094, Julie Newmar, "Pantyhose with shaping band for cheeky derrier relief", issued 1977-01-18
  18. US 3935865, Julie Newmar, "Brassiere", issued 1976-02-03
  19. "Junoesque Julie Newmar Wins a Patent on a New Kind of Pantyhose". People Weekly. 7 (6): 76. February 14, 1977.
  20. "Holy Catsuit! To the Original Catwoman, Her Son is the Cat's Meow", womenswallstreet.com; accessed October 10, 2014.
  21. After Catwoman: Julie Newmar's Many Lives, womensissues.about.com; accessed October 1, 2014.
  22. Dador, Denise (May 14, 2010). "Actress shares her story about having CMT". ABC7 Los Angeles. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  23. Duke University Genetic Testing 2014, provided with permission of Ms. Newmar.
  24. Gumbel, Peter (December 3, 1997). "Actress Julie Newmar and Others Struggle With Noisy Leaf Blowers". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 18, 2009.
  25. Shapiro, Marc (2013). The Secret Lives of Julie Newmar. Bluewater Productions. ISBN 978-1-467-51620-4.
Batman role
1st Catwoman actress
1966
Succeeded by
Lee Meriwether
Preceded by
Lee Meriwether
Catwoman actress
1967
Succeeded by
Eartha Kitt
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