In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.
Name: Julie Newmar
Notable Work: Too Wong Foo Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar, Li’l Abner, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and of course, the 1960’s television series Batman
“It’s an honor — it really is — that something stays for so long with people in the sweet depths of their feelings.” – Julie Newmar on her fans reactions to her portrayal of Batman villainess Catwoman
Julie Newmar is Old Hollywood. A lady who exudes class, Julie Newmar has been in show business since she was 17 years old. Newmar was born to Zeigfield Follies girl Helen Jesmer and Donald Newmeyer, a professor of Engineering and Football Coach at Los Angeles City College. Julie grew up dancing, and studied ballet extensively. She graduated high school at age 15. Her intellect is something Newmar prides herself on, even saying, “Tell me I’m beautiful, it’s nothing. Tell me I’m intellectual – I know it. Tell me I’m funny and it’s the greatest compliment in the world anyone could give me.” Just before turning 18, Newmar became a choreographer at Universal Studios. She was also a teacher of dance and a dance double. Newmar was, and still is, known for her build. She is 5’11 with her legs being over 3 feet of her height. Her legs were even insured for 10 million dollars. I repeat, 10 million dollars. One of Newmar’s first performances on screen was as The Gilded Girl, a woman who danced for Cleopatra and Marc Antony in Serpent of the Nile. You can watch her bust a move in the video below.
Newmar was the bride named Dorcas in the classic film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. She spent a long time on Broadway in the 1950’s, too. Her first role was in Silk Stockings. Later, she was the “Stupefyin’ Jones” for 2 years in the Li’l Abner play, based off the famous comic strip. Newmar reprised her role in the film version made in 1959. Newmar acquired a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Katrin Sveg in The Marriage Go Round, Newmar’s first speaking role on stage. In 1962, Newmar starred in the TV series My Living Doll. The series, about a Amazonian-like android who learns about human society through comedic foils, only lasted a season.
In 1966, Julie Newmar’s career took her from Broadway starlet to household name; she was cast as Catwoman in the TV series Batman. She describes the initial experience in the following quote: “I had lived in New York at the time on Beekman Place. I remember it was a weekend, Friday or Saturday, and my brother had come down from Harvard with five or six of his friends, and we were all sitting around the sofa, just chatting away, when the phone rang. I got up and answered it, and it was this agent or someone in Hollywood, who said, ‘Miss Newmar, would you like to play Catwoman on the ‘Batman’ series? They are casting it out here.’ I was insulted because he said, ‘It starts Monday.’ I said, ‘What is this?’ That’s how television is done: they never know what they are doing until yesterday. Well, my brother leaped off the sofa. I mean he physically levitated and said, ‘Batman!’ That’s the favorite show at Harvard. We all quit our classes and quit our studies and run into the TV room and watch this show.’ I said, ‘They want me to play Catwoman.’ He said, ‘Do it!’ So, I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it.'” Newmar played the seductive thief for 13 episodes. Her looks and mannerisms gained the attention of viewers and of the Bat himself. It wasn’t until Season 2 of the show that Batman and Catwoman finally admitted their attraction for each other in the episode “The Bat’s Kow Tow.” To this day, Newmar is one of the first names that comes to mind when thinking of Catwoman.
Since her time on Batman, Newmar has guest starred in a plethora of shows including Star Trek, Bewitched, The Love Boat, and Hart to Hart. In 1995, a movie was made in honor of her name. Starring Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo, Too Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar followed three drag queens in their trip across America to compete in a drag competition. The name was taken from a headshot the writer had seen in a Chinese restaurant in New York of Julie Newmar. She did make a small cameo at the end of the film. Aside from her acting career, Newmar patented pantyhose, which she called a “Nudemar” and a brassiere in the 1970’s. In 1981, Newmar gave birth to a son with now ex-husband J. Holt Smith. In the 1980’s, she made a successful career out of real estate in the Los Angeles area. She recently made news because of a feud with Jim Belushi over the height of their neighboring fence. Newmar felt the fence height would ruin the sunlight on her plants. Newmar has a zeal for gardening, claiming her garden to be paradise. After many antics by both parties, they settled out of court and she even appeared on Belushi’s show, According to Jim as a feuding neighbor.
Most recently, Newmar has stayed with the Batman family, voicing Batman’s mother, Martha Wayne in a 2010 episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. She also is active on her website julienewmarwrites.com, where she muses about beauty routines, politics, health and so much more. In two weeks, she will appear along side Adam West and Burt Ward, the original Batman and Robin, at Denver Comic Con!
None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to Julie Newmar, herself. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con as we spotlight Batman and Spider-Man artist, Tim Sale.
written by Adrian Puryear