Progressing from Miss San Francisco to Miss California, LA-born brunette beauty Lee Meriwether recited a monologue written by Irish playright John Millington Synge and won the 1955 Miss America contest. Lee's first television job was as Dave Garroway's "girl Friday" on NBC's The Today Show. She played small parts on such prime time TV series as Leave It to Beaver and Sergeant Bilko before securing her first recurring role on the 1960 daytime drama Clear Horizons. Subsequent series-TV assignments included Dr. Ann McGregor on Irwin Allen's 1966 sci-fier The Time Tunnel, the star's homespun housewife on 1971's The New Andy Griffith Show, and a regular panelist on the syndicated 1974 edition of Masquerade Party. Lee played The Catwoman in the 1966 theatrical feature Batman (she also appeared on the TV series of the same name, but not in the same part). While in the 1968 cinematic wallow Legend of Lylah Clare she essayed one of her favorite screen parts: a vituperative lesbian who beats the snot out of Kim Novak. Her best-known role was as Betty Jones, daughter-in-law and general factotum of folksy detective Buddy Ebsen, on the long running (1975-82) TV series Barnaby Jones. More recently, Meriwether exhibited a heretofore underexploited gift for broad comedy in the role of the ghoulish Lily Munster on the syndicated 1988 "retro" sitcom The New Munsters. For many years, Lee Meriwether was married to actor Frank Aletter.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Went to high school with singer Johnny Mathis.
- Winner of the 1955 Miss America pageant.
- In 1955, became the original "today girl" on NBC's Today, covering topics such as fashion and weather.
- Made her film debut in the sci-fi thriller 4D Man (1959) playing the role of Linda Davis.
- Active in a variety of charities such as AbilityFirst, Women in Show Business, American Cancer Society and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.