It’s hard to believe that actress Julie Newmar graced television screens for the first time as Catwoman on March 16, 1966. What may be even harder to believe is that Newmar turned 82 years young today. But don’t think that she got her start as a special guest villain on Batman (1966). Newmar has had an extensive career in the entertainment industry.
Born Julia Chalene Newmeyer in Los Angeles, her father, Donald, was an engineering professor, head of the Phys Ed. Department, and head football coach at LACC. He was on the L. A. Buccaneers Wonder Team. Her mother, Helen Jesmer, was a Ziegfeld Follies girl, said by Eddie Cantor to have the most beautiful legs in the Follies. From an early age, Julie studied classical piano, ballet, and every form of dance her mother would drive her to lessons for, graduating high school at 15, then spending a year in Europe with her mother and brother John. On her UCLA entrance exam, she scored a 99, staying only six weeks, switching to Universal Studios as choreographer, teacher, and dance double. Not yet 18, she was the original “Golden Girl,” a statue-come-to-life dancing in “Serpent of the Nile,” often times seen on MySpace, YouTube, and was one of the brides in the classic MGM musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” – Julie Newmar.com
Newmar was her first role on Broadway at 19 in the musical Silk Stockings (1955), musical with a book by George S. Kaufman, Leueen MacGrath, and Abe Burrows and music and lyrics by Cole Porter (Source: Wikipedia). From there, she went to play “Stupefyin’ Jones” in Li’l Abner (1956). Newmar won a Tony for her first speaking role in the Broadway comedy The Marriage-Go-Round (1958), written by Claudette Colbert and Charles Boyer. Newmar landed a contract with 20th Century Fox, and was then cast in Marilyn Monroe/Jayne Mansfield-type roles such films as The Rookie (1959) and The Maltese Bippy (1969). Always a natural beauty, Newmar’s legs were insured for $10 million (except in the event of theft).
And although she was a star prior to the series, fans around the world will forever remember her as the first feline femme fatale on Batman (1966). At a Comic Book Convention last year in Denver, sitting on a panel with co-stars Adam West and Burt Ward, she was asked about the campiness and silliness of the show. “It’s funnier that way,” responded Newmar. It’s better when you have fun.”
So, DC Comics News would like to salute Ms. Julie Newmar on her 82nd Birthday today! She still looks great!