Today, 15th April 2020, DC was supposed to be the original release date for the Catwoman 80th Anniversary comic as of current writing however, it has been postponed for two weeks (29th April 2020), or more accurately, its digital release has.
As I won’t be able to get my review/in-depth look at the “Catwoman of Earth” story from that comic out today, I thought to celebrate Catwoman’s 80th Anniversary, instead, I would look at the different identities, disguises or “lives” that the 60’s TV Catwomen have had throughout the continuity of Batman 66 and connected projects, and make it my third volume in my “Spotlight On…” series.
The first woman to bring Catwoman off the page and into a physical body, was Julie Newmar.
Julie portrayed Catwoman in Season 1 and Season 2 of the Batman TV series. She would reprise the role in the 2016 animated film, “Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders” and 2017’s “Batman vs Two Face”, also animated.
During the series Julie Newmar would also portray Minerva Matthews, the well-known wealthy recluse, shortly before Catwoman would pretend to be Minerva Matthews, also Julie! (Season 2 Episode 4: The Cat and the Fiddle)
Julie’s Catwoman also pretended to be dance teacher, Miss Klutz, in the episode “The Cat’s Meow” (Season 2 Episode 9) to teach Dick Grayson so she could suss the layout of Wayne Manor. Catwoman’s disguise however is undone, appropriately, by Dogwood plant present in Wayne Manor.
During her team-up episodes with The Sandman, Season 2 Episode 23: The Sandman Cometh and Season 2 Episode 24: The Catwoman Goeth, Catwoman poses as a model for Morpheus mattresses and also pretends to be The Sandman’s secretary to give the illusion he’s highly in demand as Dr. Somnambula, sleep expert. Both guises serve to serve The Sandman’s plot, though Catwoman is in this story, she feels 2nd fiddle which is a little odd, she however did also appear in a cameo role in Ma Parker’s episodes.
In Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016), to help Robin break a load of villains out of jail so they can defeat the evil Batmen clones, Catwoman dons an old lady disguise. Shades of Minerva Matthews!
In Batman 66 related media media we see Julie Newmar as herself in Return of the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, the biopic with a fictional story about the theft of a batmobile wrapped around it. Julie also claims to be a woman by the name of Arizona, the same as the “Highway to Arizona” bar.
We also see Julia Rose as Julie Newmar in this TV movie.
We also have Batman and Catwoman together in a sense in the animated series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 2 Episode 11, as we see Adam West as Thomas Wayne and Julie Newmar as Martha Wayne, Batman’s Mother and Father, something I’ve talked about before on this blog.
Julie Newmar unaware of the upcoming Batman movie signed on for the the comedy film Monsieur Lecoq. By the time the Batman film came around and Julie was unable to do it, Miss America 1955, Lee Meriwether would step into the lurex cat suit! For the film Catwoman would have a civilian identity as the Russian, Kitayna Ireyna Tatanya Kerenska Alisoff. (aka Miss KITKA)
Interestingly, like Batman is seen as the “real” identity in many interpretations of the character, it is ascerted that Catwoman is the true identity here too. Catwoman goes up the stairs of the Ye Olde Benbow Tavern which is downstairs from the headquarters of The United Underworld, and is greeted by one of the henchmen who says “ah-hoi Catwoman”, who is then slapped for his troubles.
“Imbecile! How many times have I told you? Never use my real name in public!”
Lee Meriwether would appear in Season 2 Episode 53: King Tut’s Coup & Season 2 Episode 54: Batman’s Waterloo, as Lisa Carson. King Tut would mistake her for Queen Cleopatra. Another character with at least two identities!
Lee Meriwether also appears in Batman vs Two-Face as, Lucilee Diamond, the lawyer for King Tut/Professor William Omaha McElroy. In a scene with Catwoman (voiced by Julie Newmar), in jail, Catwoman is able to knock Lucilee out and switch clothes with her, leaving Lucilee, Lee Meriwether’s character in the cell dressed as Catwoman, at first distressed but then catching a glimpse of her reflection, considers the situation to be “purrfect!”
Lee Meriwether also appeared in Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt. A brief role as a waitress in the cafe scene. Given the back and forth scenes between modern day and flashbacks, we see that Lee Meriwether plays the older version of a woman whom Adam West signed the breast of back in the 60s “You were right, it was permanent, it never did come off!”
In Season 3, Julie Newmar again was unable to reprise the role of Catwoman, this time, because of filming commitments for the film Mackenna’s Gold. There are theories to suggest otherwise online but with no evidence to the contrary, it seems that Mackenna’s Gold is the reason,
So in season 3, actress/singer Eartha Kitt steps into the role.
This Catwoman would momentarily pretend to be Queen Bess of Bellgravia when she would steal the queen’s golden dress. (Season 3 Episode 14: Catwoman’s Dressed To Kill)
Whilst Eartha Kitt would not play another character in another Batman 66 or related project she would host the documentary “The Many faces of Catwoman” made to promote the then-upcoming feature film Catwoman (2004) starring Halle Berry and to look at the history of the Catwoman character. This documentary would also feature Julie Newmar and Lee Meriwether amongst other actors and actresses. This documentary is available on the DVD and Blu-Ray release of the Catwoman movie.
During the series Julie Newmar’s stunt double was a woman called Marilyn Watson. Whilst I don’t often talk about stunt doubles on this page, Marilyn is an interesting case. Yes she is another woman involved in the history of Catwoman in Batman 66 history. More than that however, Marilyn Watson would actually portray Catwoman “properly” in the 2nd to last episode (Season 3 Episode 25), The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra. In this episode Dr. Cassandra and Cabala break various arch-criminals out of prison. Given how expensive it would have been to hire all the original actors, stunt doubles are used in this episode, limited only to the jailbreak, the aftermath of a fight in the dark and a scene where only the backs of their heads are shown.
Batman 66 Comics (2013-2019)
In the Batman 66 comics and its crossover mini series, we, at different points we see all 3 different interpretations of Catwoman. In Batman 66 Meets Wonder Woman 77 ,the six issue mini series, we see that all 3 are treated as the same woman, and we also learn that this Catwoman’s name is Selina Kyle like Catwoman in the original comics on which the series was based.
We also see Lee Meriwether’s other character Lisa Carson in Batman 66 Issue 10 in a story called “Cleo-Bat-Ra”, in which she has come to believe King Tut’s earlier assertion and now believes herself to be the reincarnation of Queen Cleopatra.
Personal Side Note:
Now that I am managing to average one blog post a week, this is my 16th blog post this year, and 31st overall. Meaning in the 16 weeks of 2020 I have put out more content than I did between 17th August 2017 – 31st December 2019. I aim to continue in this vain and have ideas swimming around my brain for content both on this blog and the Facebook page I have set up for the blog too and ways to expand with them both.