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December 18, 2014

Julie Newmar Talks Catwoman, the Dynamic Duo and Whether Angelina Jolie Could Wear the Catsuit

by Aaron Broverman, posted Aug 26th 2010 10:15PM
Some ladies still have it -- that classic pin-up beauty that's tough to find anymore -- and Julie Newmar is certainly one of those women. She has the look and the attitude to match, even though she hasn't donned the Catwoman costume that goes with her signature role in over 40 years. According to Newmar, her body still slinks, but on the phone her voice does too. Every syllable still drips with the purr of a cat, and she's bringing the whole package to Toronto this weekend for Fan Expo -- a cross-genre fan convention.

But she's not coming alone. The 60s-era caped crusader and boy wonder (Adam West and Burt Ward) are also coming along to foil any evil plot she may be hatching at the autograph booth. Don't get me wrong -- Ms. Newmar isn't solely defined by her 'Batman' TV series character. This cat has nine lives, including one as a writer and yet another as a road trip totem to a posse of drag queens in 'Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.'

Still, it's Catwoman that makes the boys and girls take notice, but no matter which camp you're in -- Lee Meriwether or the late Eartha Kitt -- Julie Newmar is truly an original, both in the role and in person. TV Squad caught up with the television temptress as she prepares to come to Toronto for the very first time.

This weekend at Toronto's Fan Expo you're reuniting with the Dynamic Duo, Adam West and Burt Ward. How does it feel to get the band back together?
We just sashayed into Chicago last weekend. Toronto's a place I haven't been to yet and I have high expectations. We sort of sashay in and look at the line of people and see who is besting whom [Laughs], and who leaves for lunch and who doesn't. We have a giddy old good time. We do, we really do. Isn't it wonderful to be back with friends and playmates and fellow actors after 40 years?

Yes, definitely. And you never know when it's going to end, given that so many former guest stars have already passed on, so I'm sure it's a big treat for you.
Don't say it! Don't think it! No matter what happens, it shan't be our last, let's put it that way. We're perky.



Why do you think the 'Batman' TV series resonates with so many people?
Because they were four and six-years-old and it was in color, they titled the camera, gave us odd dialogue. We did peculiar things and we got naughty. Didn't we? I mean, you know, anyone wearing a cape, you'd have to lift your eyebrow at that, wouldn't you?

Yes, especially for the time. Everyone fell in love with the visual sound effects. It was truly a campy interpretation.
Yes, campy... campy, yes. What does that mean? Is that when the stew boils over and sort of messes the top of the cook-top? Yes, that could be campy, yes.

One of my favorite movies is 'To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.'
Oh no, you can't be serious! These weren't boys looking like girls, they were real men, weren't they? That's a stretch for everybody's imagination. You know what I love about that movie? Remember the scene where they were driving this humongous Cadillac across... I guess it was the Washington Bridge in New York going westward and the helicopter came down and there they were, lounging in the backseat, just as if it were a picnic of a day.

How does it feel to be immortalized in a film title? What did you do when you first heard what they wanted to do?
I wasn't sure. It had me a little more than curious. I said, [raspy demanding voice] "Hand me that script! Let me see what they're saying!" Low and behold, it was froth and fun and quite delicious.

I guess you couldn't wait to be involved?
I wasn't involved.

But you did make a cameo appearance.
That was a last-minute decision by the producer, the famous one who makes all the best films in Hollywood, Steven Spielberg.

What do you think of Catwoman? There are so many interpretations. There were three just on the 'Batman' TV series.
And there will be more, and more after that, and even more because it is a dee-licious role to play. It is scrumptious. I like the sass best, along with the insouciance, the outrageousness and the top-of-the-line silliness. I quite like that, yes. It's my secret self. That was a lady born with boots on, with gold nails and all that, you know?

Did you get to keep the costume?
No! The costume resides in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

That's a great place for it, but do you ever think that maybe you could still fit into it?
Well, I have versions of it, shall we say? Mmm hmm. Often described as melted licorice poured over the better parts of one's self, you know? You'll have to use your imagination... and yes it still fits... and no, I wouldn't wear it -- oh yes, I might!

The whip is pretty sexy too, don't you think?
Ah, the whip. Well, that was only used in the first sequence.

Can you tell me why you weren't in the film based on the series and why Lee Meriwether took your place?
First of all, I think variety is good for any actor. We shouldn't keep repeating ourselves. We need challenges. I think the character has a fortuitous future and as I understand it, may or may not be in the new feature film coming out in 2012.

Definitely rumored, I think Angelina Jolie has been rumored to be considered for the role. What do you think of that?
Top drawer. Such a bod, great eyes... mmm hmm.

So, she could still pull it off?
Indeed.

There are bad interpretations of the character too.
But that's good, I like all of them. Listen, little girls come up to me and dress like that, you know and tell me what a good time they have on Halloween night. It doesn't matter. When you put on the costume it challenges you to be much more frisky. I think you get your druthers at a faster pace and that's the costume more than anything else.

But then there's Halle Berry's take, which a lot of the fanbase didn't like. What did you think of her interpretation?
I think she stalks... very well. 'Nuff said.

So what are you doing now?
You know what I would rather be doing?

What?
I'd rather be making these appearances while promoting my book. I'm working on four books and I have a new book that's titled 'The Conscious Catwoman Explains Life on Earth' and I hope to bring it out around November 19.

Is it about spirituality and that kind of thing?
All of that sort of bunk, yeah. So if you haven't raised an eyebrow with that title, you get a kind of hint as to what's inside. It's a How-To book. How to be a glamazon, how to a have a fabulous life and tell it like it is.

You've been doing that a long time, eh? You're still the bombshell you always were.
I've had a little practice.

What about other roles?
No, I don't like working for others, I work for myself. I've become this great boss. I never say "no" to me. I think you can move a lot faster because you've got someone in agreement with you and if you don't do it right, you're quick to make a change. I mean anybody over 50 ought to be working for themselves, or else they're just fooling around.

Anything else?
It's a huge pleasure for me to come to Toronto because enough people have written me from your fair shores that I expect to see them all at once.

Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar.
[Laughs] You're very welcome, sir!

The Toronto Fan Expo 2010 runs from Friday, August 27 - 29 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

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