American actress Julie Newmar's father was a college instructor and her mother was a former Ziegfeld dancer. This odd mix may explain why Julie complemented her dancing and acting career with offscreen intellectual pursuits. A lifelong student of ballet, Newmar was accepted as a dancer by the Los Angeles Opera Comany at age 15, and before her UCLA enrollment was under way she'd left college to try her luck in films. A stint as a gold-painted exotic dancer in Serpent of the Nile (1954) was usually conveniently ignored by Newmar's biographers, who preferred to list Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) as her screen debut. From here it was on to Broadway for a featured dance in the musical Can-Can, then to the sizable but nonspeaking role of Stupefyin' Jones in Li'l Abner. It was for Newmar's performance as a Swedish sexpot in the genteel farce The Marriage-Go-Round that the actress attained true stardom - and also won a Tony Award. Recreating her stage roles for the film versions of Li'l Abner (1959) and Marriage-Go-Round (1961), Newmar spent the next few years dividing her time between stage work and TV guest spots (she played the Devil in the 1963 "Twilight Zone" episode "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville"). In 1964, Newmar was cast as a beautiful robot on the TV sitcom "My Living Doll," a series that languished opposite "Bonanza" and barely got through the season. According to Newmar, she accepted her best-remembered TV role, that of Catwoman on the weekly series Batman on the advice of her brother, a Harvard fellow in Physics who, along with his classmates, was a rabid Batman fan. Newmar played Catwoman for two seasons, but contractual committments kept her from appearing in the 1966 feature film version of Batman, wherein her role was taken over by Lee Meriwether. For diverse reasons, Newmar wasn't back as Catwoman for the final "Batman" season, so Eartha Kitt essayed the role. Newmar's film career peaked with MacKenna's Gold (1968) and The Maltese Bippy (1969), after which she was consigned to such deathless projects as Hysterical (1983), Nudity Required (1990) and Ghosts Can't Do It (1991). In 1995 she returned to the big screen playing herself in the cross-dressing comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar. In the mid 1980s, Julie Newmar began making the personal-appearance rounds thanks to the publicity attending the 20th anniversary of the "Batman" series, and in 1992 Julie was again an interview subject as a byproduct of Michelle Pfeiffer's unforgettable Catwoman stint in the 1992 feature film Batman Returns.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Studied classical piano, ballet and various forms of dance, beginning at an early age. Graduated high school and became a prima ballerina for the Los Angeles Opera at age 15. Reportedly has an I.Q. of 135. Scored a 99 on her entrance exam for UCLA, but attended the school for only six weeks before going to work for Universal Studios as a choreographer, teacher and dance double. Appeared in gold body paint (and a bikini) at age 17 for her role in 1953's Serpent of the Nile. Landed first Broadway role at age 19 as a ballerina in Silk Stockings. Appeared in the Broadway and film productions of Li'l Abner (1956 and '59) and The Marriage-Go-Round (1958 and '60); won a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Marriage-Go-Round. Had her legs insured for $1 million. Became the first to play Catwoman in the Batman series in 1966 at the urging of her brother, a Batman fan and Harvard fellow in Physics. Posed for Playboy magazine in 1968 and 1969. Holds three U.S. patents: 3,914,799 and 4,003,094 for "Pantyhose With Shaping Band for Cheeky Derriere Relief"; and 3,935,865 for "Brassiere." Appeared nearly nude in a 1977 edition of People magazine---donning high heels and pantyhose---to market her invention, Nudemar pantyhose. Ran her own real-estate business in the 1980s.