Catwoman has been played by a variety of different actresses over time. Julie Newmar, who played the character in the Batman TV show during the 1960s stands out as the first one. Today she turned 86 and celebrated the milestone with a portrait on social media. The Instagram post is inspired by a similar portrait that Olivia De Haviland had taken in honor of her 103rd birthday.
Newmar's approach to the costume and mannerisms of the character have bled into many of the subsequent versions of Catwoman. The ears and eyeliner have found homes in the comic depictions. Most of the current costumes for Selina Kyle look to Newmar and Michelle Pfeiffer's turns on camera. Things might bend to the latex version a bit more currently but before the 80s, Newmar and Eartha Kitt were the most known versions of Catwoman.
Television was a very different animal back then. The Catwoman actress was found for the role very quickly and was in the world of TV very quickly. She recounted how quickly this all happened a few years ago.
“Well, there was no audition at all,” Newmar told Fox News in 2017. “They were desperate. Television is a fast and furious business… It took only a weekend between whoever said, ‘Can you show up on Monday’ and my brother, who had come down from Harvard with his friends to New York, where I was living, to practically pushing me onto a plane. By Tuesday, I was fitting into costumes. It happened so fast.”
Her time as Catwoman may not have been the longest, but she clearly had an impact on the fanbase. Newmar talked about the ways fans would stop her in public and speak about how her performance affected them.
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“So often, men would stop me on the street and tell me I was their first turn-on,” she declared. “And I would have the nerve to ask them how old they were... People would often tell me about their sexual adventures when they were 14-15-16.”
Newmar reprised her role as Catwoman in 2016’s animated movie Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. Adam West lent his voice to Batman, and Burt Ward contributed as Robin. A sequel was being planned, but unfortunately, it looks like it was never finished before West’s death.
The classic Batman television series ran from 1966 through 1969. The series saw West and Ward as the Dynamic Duo battling all of their colorful rogues of Gotham City, including Newmar's Catwoman. The series was previously made into a live-action film.