Julie Newmar (born August 16, 1933, Los Angeles, California) is an American actress, dancer and singer. Her most famous role is Catwoman in the Batman television series. Born in Los Angeles as Julia Chalene Newmeyer, the eldest of three siblings born to Don and Helen (née 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 Los Angeles Buccaneers of the first American Football League. Her brother is John Newmeyer, Harvard Ph.D, a San Francisco-based epidemiologist, author, and Napa Valley winemaker.
Newmar was a "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 and Demetrius and the Gladiators, and was a ballerina with the Los Angeles Opera. She also worked as a choreographer and dancer for Universal Studios.
Her first major role, billed as "Julie Newmeyer", was as "Dorcas", one of the brides in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (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 1959 film version. She was also the female lead in a low-budget comedy, The Rookie. She also featured in many further films including the 1969 production, Mackenna's Gold.
Newmar had first appeared on Broadway in 1955 in Silk Stockings which starred Hildegarde Neff and Don Ameche. She also appeared in the 1961 play, The Marriage-Go-Round, which starred Charles Boyer and Claudette Colbert. Newmar developed the role of the Swedish vixen and won a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress. 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.
Newmar appeared in a pictorial, in the May 1968 issue of Playboy magazine, which featured Playmate Elizabeth Jordan.
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" in the TV series My Living Doll (1964–1965), and is known for her recurring role in the 1960s TV series Batman as the Catwoman, the "purrfect" villainess. (Lee Meriwether played Catwoman in the 1966 feature film and Eartha Kitt in the series' final season.) Newmar made her own Catwoman costume—now in the Smithsonian Institution—and placed the belt at the hips instead of the waist to emphasize her hourglass figure.
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, F Troop as an Indian princess, Bewitched as a cat named Ophelia given human form by Endora, 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, and was a pregnant princess in the Star Trek episode "Friday's Child". She had guest roles in Columbo and The Bionic Woman during the 1970s.
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, Hart to Hart, CHiPs and Fantasy Island. She was seen in George Michael's video clip Too Funky in 1992, and appeared as herself in a 1996 episode of Melrose Place.
The 1995 film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar pays homage to the actress; Newmar herself makes a cameo appearance near the film's end.
In 2003, Newmar appeared as herself in the TV-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. Julia Rose played Newmar in flashbacks to the production of the TV series.
Fashion designer Thierry Mugler, selected her as his model-muse for the catwalk of his 20 year couture celebration in Paris.In the 1970s, Newmar received two US patents for pantyhose and one for a brassiere. 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.
Newmar began investing in Los Angeles real estate in the 1980s. A women's magazine stated that "Newmar is partly responsible for improving the Los Angeles neighborhoods on La Brea Avenue and Fairfax Avenue near the Grove."