"I still get fan letters from guys who tell me I
made a big impression on them," says Newmar, the original
Catwoman on TV's Batman
(1966-68). "Then they say how old they were at the
time: 11 years old, 8 years old. Sometimes it drops to 5.
And they often say something like, 'You were my first inspiration
for knowing that women were going to be a great trip in
She didn't realize until the movie To Wong Foo, Thanks
for Everything, Julie Newmar was made in 1995 how trippy
some of those young men's lives could be. "How was
I supposed to know I was a sort of patron saint for drag
queens?" she says. "Why me?"
Perhaps the attraction is that Newmar is a queen of camp.
"I always did have a sense of fun about my sexuality,"
Even though her career includes Broadway (Li'l Abner
and Marriage-Go-Round in the 1950s), film (Seven
Brides for Seven Brothers, 1954), and many TV roles,
Catwoman and her skin-tight leather outfit is the outstanding
for most fans.
Born Julia Chalane Newmeyer, she is the daughter of an
engineering professor and a former Ziegfeld girl. So maybe,
she jokes, her vital statistics-a 38-23-38 figure and a
135 IQ-were genetic. Newmar, now 65, acts on occasion if
the role amuses her, such as in the recently completed If...Dog...Rabbit,
a film directed by Matthew Modine. But her priorities are
her Los Angeles-based real-estate business and her 17-year-old
"How I think of myself is as a kind of producer, but
I don't make films," she says. "I find people
who are creative, and they become my tenants. I now have
the finest cake-maker in all of Southern California, the
finest interior designer. I have some of the best screenwriters
and photographers living in my buildings. I have a wonderful
restaurant. I've started art galleries. It satisfies my
creative side, even though I'm behind the scenes."