Julie Newmar

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Julie Newmar
Julie Newmar - 1965.jpg
Newmar in 1965
Born Julia Chalene Newmeyer
(1933-08-16) August 16, 1933 (age 84)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation
  • Actress
  • dancer
  • singer
  • businesswoman
  • writer
Years active 1952–present
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)[1]
Spouse(s) J. Holt Smith (m. 1977–84)
Children 1
Website julienewmar.com

Julie Newmar (born August 16, 1933) is an American actress, dancer and singer, known for a variety of stage, screen, and television roles. She won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role as Katrin Sveg in the 1958 Broadway production of The Marriage-Go-Round, and reprised the role in the 1961 film version. In the 1960s, she starred for two seasons as Catwoman in the television series Batman (1966–1967). Her other stage credits include the Ziegfeld Follies in 1956, and playing Lola in Damn Yankees! (1961) and Irma in Irma la Douce (1965) in regional productions.

She has also appeared in the music video for George Michael's 1992 single "Too Funky", and had a cameo as herself in the film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995). Her voice work includes the animated feature films Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016) and Batman vs. Two-Face (2017) where she reprises her role as Catwoman 50 years after the original television series.

Early life

Newmar was born as Julia Chalene Newmeyer on August 16, 1933 in Los Angeles, California, the eldest of three children born to Don and Helen (Jesmer) Newmeyer. Her German American father was head of the Physical Education Department at Los Angeles City College and had played American football professionally in the 1920s with the 1926 Los Angeles Buccaneers of the National Football League. Her Swedish-French mother was a fashion designer who used Chalene as her professional name and later became a real-estate investor.[2]

Newmar has two younger brothers, Peter Bruce Newmeyer (born 1935)[3] and John A. Newmeyer (born 1940), a writer, epidemiologist, and winemaker.[4][5] She began dancing at an early age, and performed as a prima ballerina with the Los Angeles Opera beginning at age fifteen.[6]

Career

Early work

Newmar with Bob Cummings in My Living Doll (1964)

Newmar began her career as a dancer, training with Denishawn and later appearing in the Ziegfeld Follies; Eddie Cantor said she had "the most beautiful legs in the Follies".[7][8][9] She began appearing in bit parts and uncredited roles in films as dancers, including a part as the "dancer-assassin" in Slaves of Babylon (1953) and the "gilded girl" in Serpent of the Nile (1953), in which she was clad in gold paint. She danced in several other films, including The Band Wagon (also 1953) and Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954). She also worked as a choreographer and dancer for Universal Studios beginning at age nineteen.[9][10] Her first major role, billed as Julie Newmeyer, was as Dorcas, one of the brides in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (also 1954). Her three-minute Broadway appearance as the leggy Stupefyin' Jones in the musical Li'l Abner in 1956 led to a reprise in the film version released in 1959. She was also the female lead in a low-budget comedy, The Rookie (also 1959).[11]

Newmar had first appeared on Broadway in 1955 in Silk Stockings which starred Hildegarde Neff and Don Ameche. She also appeared in the film, The Marriage-Go-Round (1961), which starred James Mason and Susan Hayward. Newmar developed the role of the Swedish vixen and won a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress. She later appeared on stage with Joel Grey in the national tour of Stop the World - I Want to Get Off and as Lola in Damn Yankees! and Irma in Irma La Douce.[11] and in Mackenna's Gold (1968).[12] She also appeared in a pictorial in the May 1968 issue of Playboy magazine, which featured Playmate Elizabeth Jordan.

Television work

Newmar as Catwoman (1966).

Newmar's fame stems mainly from her television appearances. Her statuesque form made her a larger-than-life sex symbol, most often cast as a temptress or Amazonian beauty, including an early appearance in sexy maid costume on The Phil Silvers Show. She starred as Rhoda the Robot on the television series My Living Doll (1964–1965), and is known for her recurring role on the 1960s television series Batman as the villainess Catwoman. (Lee Meriwether played Catwoman in the 1966 feature film and Eartha Kitt in the series' final season.) Newmar modified her Catwoman costume—now in the Smithsonian Institution—and placed the belt at the hips instead of the waist to emphasize her hourglass figure.[13]

In 1962, Newmar appeared twice as motorcycle-riding, free-spirited heiress Vicki Russell on Route 66, filmed in Tucson, Arizona ("How Much a Pound is Albatross") and in Tennessee ("Give the Old Cat a Tender Mouse"). She guest-starred on The Twilight Zone as the devil in "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", F Troop as an Indian princess, Bewitched ("The Eight-Year Itch Witch" in 1971) as a cat named Ophelia given human form, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Get Smart as a double agent assigned to Maxwell Smart's apartment posing as a maid. In 1967, she guest-starred as April Conquest in an episode of The Monkees ("Monkees Get Out More Dirt"), and was the pregnant Capellan princess, Eleen, in the Star Trek episode "Friday's Child". In 1969, she played a hit-woman in the It Takes a Thief episode "The Funeral is on Mundy" with Robert Wagner. In 1983, she reprised the hit-woman role on Hart to Hart, Wagner's later television series, in the episode "A Change of Hart". Both performances with Wagner included full-body grappling ending with Wagner lying on top of Newmar. In the 1970s, she had guest roles on Columbo and The Bionic Woman.[14]

Later roles

Newmar appeared in several low-budget films during the next two decades. She guest-starred on TV, appearing on The Love Boat, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, CHiPs and Fantasy Island. She was seen in the music video for George Michael's "Too Funky" in 1992, and appeared as herself in a 1996 episode of Melrose Place.[14]

In 2003, Newmar appeared as herself in the television movie Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt alongside former Batman co-stars Adam West, Burt Ward, Frank Gorshin and Lee Meriwether. Julia Rose played Newmar in flashbacks to the production of the television series. However, due to longstanding rights issues over footage from the Batman TV series, only footage of Meriwether taken from the feature film was allowed to be used in the television movie.[citation needed] In 2016, she provided the voice of Catwoman in the animated film Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. Newmar also appeared on The Home and Family Show in May 2016, where she met Gotham actress Camren Bicondova who portrays a younger Selina Kyle.[15]

Entrepreneur

In the 1970s, Newmar received two U.S. patents for pantyhose[16] and one for a brassiere.[17] The pantyhose were described as having "cheeky derriere relief" and promoted under the name "Nudemar". The brassiere was described as "nearly invisible" and in the style of Marilyn Monroe.[18]

Newmar began investing in Los Angeles real estate in the 1980s. A women's magazine stated, "Newmar is partly responsible for improving the Los Angeles neighborhoods on La Brea Avenue and Fairfax Avenue near the Grove."[19]

Personal life

Newmar at the 2014 Phoenix Comic Con.

Newmar married J. Holt Smith, a lawyer, on August 5, 1977, and moved with him to Fort Worth, Texas, where she lived until her divorce from Smith in 1984.[1] She has one child, John Jewl Smith (born February 1981), who has a hearing impairment and Down syndrome.[20] She suffers from Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, an inherited neurological condition that affects 1 in 2,500 Americans.[21]

A legal battle with her neighbor, actor Jim Belushi, ended amicably with an invitation to co-star on his sitcom According to Jim in an episode ("The Grumpy Guy") that poked fun at the feud. An avid gardener, Newmar initiated at least a temporary ban on leaf blowers with the Los Angeles City Council.[22]

Newmar has been a vocal supporter of LGBT rights; her brother, John Newmeyer, is gay.[6] In 2013, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing (GLEH) organization in Los Angeles.[6]

In popular culture

The film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995) pays homage to the actress; Newmar herself makes a cameo appearance near the film's ending.[14] In 2012, Bluewater Comics released a four-issue comic miniseries entitled The Secret Lives of Julie Newmar.[23]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1952 She's Working Her Way Through College Julie Uncredited
1952 Just for You Chorine Uncredited
1953 The I Don't Care Girl Specialty Dancer Uncredited
1953 Serpent of the Nile Gilded Girl Uncredited
1953 The Farmer Takes a Wife Dancer Uncredited
1953 The Band Wagon Salon Model / Chorine in Girl Hunt Ballet Uncredited
1953 Slaves of Babylon Dancer-Assassin
1953 The Eddie Cantor Story Showgirl Uncredited
1954 Demetrius and the Gladiators Primary Specialty Dancer Uncredited
1954 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Dorcas
1959 Li'l Abner Stupefyin' Jones
1959 The Rookie Lili Marlene
1961 The Marriage-Go-Round Katrin Sveg Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer
1963 For Love or Money Bonnie Brasher
1969 Mackenna's Gold Hesh-Ke
1969 The Maltese Bippy Carlotta Ravenswood
1970 Up Your Teddy Bear Toy Company Director, a.k.a. "Mother"
1972 A Very Missing Person Aleatha Westering Television film
1972 The Feminist and the Fuzz Lilah McGuiness Television film
1977 Terraces Chalane Turner Television film
1983 Hysterical Venetia
1984 Love Scenes Belinda
1985 Streetwalkin' Queen Bee
1985 Evils of the Night Dr. Zarma
1987 Real Men
1988 Deep Space Lady Elaine Wentworth
1988 Nudity Required Irina
1988 Body Beat
1989 Cyber-C.H.I.C. Miss McKenzie Also known as Dance Academy
1990 Ghosts Can't Do It Angel
1994 Oblivion Miss Kitty
1995 To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar Herself
1996 Oblivion 2: Backlash Miss Kitty
1999 If... Dog... Rabbit... Judy's Mother
2003 Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt Herself/Arizona Bar Owner Television film
2010 Beautiful Darling Herself Documentary
2012 Bettie Page Reveals All Herself Documentary
2012 The Mechanical Bride Herself, narrator Documentary
2013 Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age Herself Documentary
2016 Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Catwoman Voice role
2017 Batman vs. Two-Face Catwoman Voice role

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1957 The Phil Silvers Show Suzie 1 episode
1961 The Defenders Brandy Gideon Morfoot 1 episode
1962 Route 66 Vicki Russell 2 episodes
1963 The Twilight Zone Miss Devlin 1 episode
1964–1965 My Living Doll Rhoda Miller Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star – Female
1966 F Troop Cinthia Jeffries / Yellow Bird 1 episode
1966 The Beverly Hillbillies Ulla Bergstrom 1 episode
1966–1967 Batman Catwoman 13 episodes
1966 The Monkees April Conquest 1 episode
1967 Star Trek: The Original Series Eleen 1 episode
1968 It Takes a Thief Susannah Sutton 1 episode
1968 Get Smart Ingrid 1 episode
1970 McCloud Adrienne Redman 1 episode
1970–1972 Love, American Style Various 4 episodes
1971 Bewitched Ophelia 1 episode
1973 Columbo Lisa Chambers 1 episode
1975 McMillan & Wife Luciana Amaldi 1 episode
1976 The Bionic Woman Claudette 1 episode
1976 Monster Squad Ultra Witch 1 episode
1978 Jason of Star Command Space Queen 1 episode
1979 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Zarina 1 episode
1979 The Love Boat Marla Samms 1 episode
1982 CHiPs Cora Dwayne 1 episode
1982 The Powers of Matthew Star Nian 1 episode
1983 Fantasy Island Doralee 1 episode
1983 Hart to Hart Eve 1 episode
2006 According to Jim Julie 1 episode
2010 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Martha Wayne 1 episode

Stage credits

References

  1. ^ a b Demaret, Kent (September 12, 1977). "At 42, Julie Newmar Takes Her First Husband, and a Texas Lawyer Gets His Own Living Doll". People. Retrieved June 2, 2017. 
  2. ^ Min, Janice (October 16, 1995). "Feline Groovy". People. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  3. ^ 1940 United States Federal Census for Los Angeles County, California, accessed on ancestry.com on 26 January 2013
  4. ^ Newmeyer family genealogy site, newmeyer.com; accessed October 10, 2014.
  5. ^ Strider, Chris (2000). Swingin' Chicks of the '60s. Cedco Press. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-768-32232-3. 
  6. ^ a b c Huqueriza, Chris (January 15, 2013). "Julie Newmar, Original Catwoman, Receives LGBT Award". South Florida Gay News. Retrieved June 1, 2017. 
  7. ^ "In the 'Harem Life' Number at the Follies'", Town and Country, October 1, 1919.
  8. ^ Jazz Age Beauties: the Lost Collection of Ziegfeld Photographer Alfred Cheney Johnston (Universe, 2006)
  9. ^ a b "Julie Newmar". Biography.com. The Biography Channel. Retrieved June 2, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Bruce Edwin Interview Julie Newmar". The Hollywood Sentinel. Retrieved May 30, 2017. 
  11. ^ a b Julie Newmar at the Internet Broadway Database
  12. ^ Thomas, Nick (August 4, 2016). "Julie Newmar on aging beautifully". The Spectrum. USA Networks. Retrieved May 31, 2017. 
  13. ^ Moore, Booth (January 24, 2011). "Catching up with the original Catwoman, Julie Newmar". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 24, 2016. 
  14. ^ a b c Julie Newmar on IMDb
  15. ^ "TV’s Catwoman Camren Bicondova & Julie Newmar - Home & Family". The Hallmark Channel. Retrieved May 30, 2017. 
  16. ^ US 3914799, Julie Newmar, "Pantyhose with shaping band for cheeky derriere relief", issued 1975-10-28 
    US 4003094, Julie Newmar, "Pantyhose with shaping band for cheeky derrier relief", issued 1977-01-18 
  17. ^ US 3935865, Julie Newmar, "Brassiere", issued 1976-02-03 
  18. ^ "Junoesque Julie Newmar Wins a Patent on a New Kind of Pantyhose". People Weekly. 7 (6): 76. February 14, 1977. 
  19. ^ "Holy Catsuit! To the Original Catwoman, Her Son is the Cat's Meow", womenswallstreet.com; accessed October 10, 2014.
  20. ^ After Catwoman: Julie Newmar's Many Lives, womensissues.about.com; accessed October 1, 2014.
  21. ^ Dador, Denise (May 14, 2010). "Actress shares her story about having CMT". ABC7 Los Angeles. Retrieved August 19, 2015. 
  22. ^ Gumbel, Peter (December 3, 1997). "Actress Julie Newmar and Others Struggle With Noisy Leaf Blowers". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 18, 2009. 
  23. ^ Shapiro, Marc (2013). The Secret Lives of Julie Newmar. Bluewater Productions. ISBN 978-1-467-51620-4. 

External links

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