Tinseltown Talks: Julie Newmar Still the Cat's Meow
Julie Newmar as Catwoman in the 1960s “Batman” series starring Adam West.
If you’re in the market for beauty tips and happen to be in Los Angeles on May 3, Julie Newmar has an invitation for you.
Best known for her role as the original Catwoman in the ‘60s TV series “Batman,” Newmar will offer her thoughts on “how to be a great beauty” in a free public presentation at Goo Salon (see www.facebook.com/goosalon).
The hair salon, with its playful and glamorous interior, is the perfect setting for Newmar who, at 80, has retained her own playful nature and glamorous inner and outer self.
“Beauty has a lot of connotations to it and loving yourself is a very good place to start,” advised Ms. Newmar from her home in Los Angeles. The Hollywood beauty icon will offer advice to enhance one’s overall image including tips on make-up, hair, dress, and voice. “We can all be more marvelous.”
Aside from Catwoman and numerous other TV roles throughout her career (see www.julienewmar.com), Newmar appeared in over 30 films working with greats such as Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, and James Mason.
In “Mackenna's Gold” (1969) she was cast as a young Native American girl.
“I’m of Swedish descent, so having a Swedish girl play an Indian could only have been done in Hollywood 40 years ago,” said Newmar, recalling an unexpected visitor to the set.
“We spent 2 months on location in Arizona and Utah,” she said. “At the time, Robert Kennedy was running for president and he and his entire entourage dropped in one night and had dinner in a tent with us. I sat next to him and remember his wife trying unsuccessfully to convince Gregory Peck to read some poetry.”
Eight years earlier, in “The Marriage-Go-Round,” Newmar was cast closer to her ancestry – as a teenage Swedish blonde bombshell attempting to entice James Mason. “He was a glorious actor, extremely generous and helpful. He looked out for me in my close-ups, making sure the light was on my face and shadows didn’t fall on me.”
But it was her role as exotic feminine nemesis to the ‘dynamic duo’ in some dozen “Batman” episodes where Newmar’s sex appeal sizzled on TV screens in the ‘60s. Her image still haunts many today.
“I still get a lot of fan mail from men!” said Newmar, quoting an excerpt from an on-line post:
“Julie Newmar is the fruit of one of those moments when God must have thought ‘I’ll give them a girl who will define female perfection so well, that they will always know what beauty is all about.’”
“Oh my,” added Newmar, sounding quite touched by the tribute, “that’s so endearing.”
Newmar may soon endear herself to another generation of fans when the “Batman” TV series is released on DVD later this year – after being held up for years by legal wrangling. She recently finished recording commentary for the DVD’s Special Features.
“Doing the interview caused me to focus on what the Catwoman character meant for my life,” she said. “It’s really a joy to have created something that people still remember me for. I never got any royalties from the series, but the popularity of the show over several generations has more than paid me back.”
As for her memorable body-gripping Catwoman costume, Newmar says she acquired the original “after a lot of hoopla,” and donated it to the Smithsonian Institution.
“It was like a long-sleeved, long-legged leotard made from black Lurex,” she recalled. “It clung to the body, but was very easy to get in and out of. It really looked smashing!”
Newmar hopes her upcoming beauty lecture will help others to look and feel “smashing,” too, and she may even share some personal general lessons of life.
“If something bothers me, I try to live on top of it,” she said. “Just let the joy in you come out and stay in love with life. That’s the secret to aging well.”
Nick Thomas (www.getnickt.com) teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written features, columns, and interviews for over 400 magazines and newspapers.