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Catwoman (Julie Newmar) (Classic Batman 1966 TV series)

Catwoman ’66

(Julie Newmar version)


“I smell the track of a feline predator !”
— Commissioner Gordon.

Context

In 1966-68, there was a Batman television serial on ABC. The first two seasons were a national craze.

It thus shaped the mainstream understanding of super-heroes for at least a decade – and the 1978 Superman movie.

The show was the epitome of goofy, playful camp . Over the decades, critics came to realise how difficult it is to pull that off, and the craftsmanship Batman episodes involved. In shorter words, that this shit was awesome.

One of the most popular characters was the Catwoman. During the first two seasons she was played by Julie Newmar. And in some shots by stand-in Marilyn Watson.


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The naming of cats is a difficult matter

Since Adam West’s Batman is often called “Batman ’66”, we’ll call this version Catwoman ’66.

The Lee Meriwether and the Eartha Kitt versions are considered distinct. So, Catwoman ’66½ and Catwoman ’67, I guess.

Likewise, I’m not covering her comic book appearances here. Time constraints, see. If only because it’ll take me hours to sift through the hundreds of shots I took of Julie Newmar. FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES.

Other notes

For a full guide to our Catwoman character profiles, please refer to the full guide to our Catwoman character profiles. Holy descriptive titling, Batman !

Ms. Newmar’s agents maintain a small online shop , with pin-up posters, signed photos and stuff.


Background

  • Real Name: Unrevealed.
  • Other Aliases: Miss Klaus (cover ID), Minerva Matthews (stolen ID), “the feline devil”, “the countess of criminality”, “the marchioness of misdemeanours”.
  • Marital Status: Meow.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: United Underworld.
  • Base of Operations: The Gato & Chat fur company, then the Pink Sandbox restaurant, then Duncan’s Dance Studio, then the Cat-acombs Condominium (subterranean suite 6), then the West Cat-Lair (in New Guernsey), then the Eta Beta Latka Sorority Home of Gotham University.
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 140 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Light brown.


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Powers & Abilities

The Catwoman isn’t a fighter. Her thugs handle that.

Rather she’s a planner, leader and B&E type.

She has a lot of money to throw at her silly master plans. The Catwoman can deploy all the tricks, traps, vehicles, props, etc. that the show’s vintage budget and vintage SFX will allow.

It is *implied* that Catwoman is skilled with :

  • Big cat taming.
  • Demolitions.
  • Chemistry and pharmacology, including super-science applications.
  • Improbable electronics and sonics, including super-science ones.

She also demonstrated significant skills at disguise, makeup and acting.

Catwoman once deploys a sidekick, Pussycat. She’s an amateur rock ‘n’ roll singer.


Soundtrack

Pussycat is played by 1960s pop sensation Lesley Gore . Ms. Gore likely is most remembered for her undying 1963 #1 hit.

Available for download on Amazon .


History

When she first appears, the Catwoman has already clashed with the GCPD. And was foiled by the Dynamic Duo at least once.

During Season 2, she mentions that she’s been condemned 12 times already.

The purr-fect crime (S1E19-20)

The Catwoman steals a cat statuette.

She then sends the police clues (and a kitten) about the other half of this feline statuary. This is a trap to reel the Dynamic Duo into her lair, the “Gato & Chat fur trading company” (oh oh oh).

Batman & Robin are beset by faux deathtraps, then narrowly escape from bored tigers. They also deduce that the stolen statuettes are… a map to a pirate treasure ! They come in just as Catwoman gasses her henchman unconscious (to avoid sharing) and runs away with the booty.

However, the Catwoman falls into a crevasse ! She couldn’t bring herself to drop the treasure bag encumbering her.

Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and Aunt Harriet adopt Catwoman’s pet. But they soon realise that this cat keeps stealing food !

Hot off the griddle (S2E3-4)

A catalogue, a model catamaran, and mittens are stolen. Cat-crimes are afoot !

Catwoman (Julie Newmar) (Classic Batman 1966 TV series) unmasked in her cat lair

Batman and Robin lay a trap by spreading rumours about a rare canary. But it is the Catwoman and her cat burglars who get the drop on the Dynamic Duo !

Batman and Robin then deduce that Catwoman is behind the Pink Sandbox — the newest, trendiest restaurant in Gotham. Not only is the menu loaded with cat puns, but this place-to-be establishment has launched the newest dance – the catusi .

Once there the Dynamic Duo promptly falls into death traps. Before they narrowly escape, the Catwoman remarks about her romantic interest in Batman !

Catwoman tries to steal half a mil in cash, plus rare violins (strung with catguts, of course). Robin’s trap fails, but then so does Catwoman’s getaway rocket ! Batman and Catwoman narrowly avoid falling off the Gotham State Building, and she’s arrested.

By S2E10, Catwoman is still at the Gotham State Penitentiary. There, she witnesses the nefarious scheme of Ma Parker.

The cat’s meow (S2E29-30)

The Catwoman launches a band, Catwoman and the Kittens.

Catwoman (Julie Newmar) (Classic Batman 1966 TV series) on a high window ledge

The minx also uses an electronic gadget to steal the voice of famous locals. She then plants clues to send the Dynamic Duo after the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin.

Catwoman’s allergy to dogwood bark exposes her plans. Nevertheless, she puts the Deadly Duo in a silly deathtrap ! This leaves her free to steal the voices of popular singers Chad & Jeremy .

Catwoman then publicly blackmails the UK – millions of pounds to restore the voices of Chad & Jeremy ! And she would have gotten away with it too ! But she can’t bring herself to shoot Batman.

The Catwoman even explains how to restore the stolen voices if Batman will consider dating her once she’d be released from prison.

The Sandman cometh (SE2E33-34)

Catwoman is now out of jail and considered reformed. But it *also* has been mere weeks ! Holy Umberto Eco , Batman !

Catwoman (Julie Newmar) (Classic Batman 1966 TV series) faces Batman claws pose

She and European criminal the Sandman consider an alliance. But they don’t trust each other. The Sandman/Catwoman team-up takes place, though both plan betrayal !

The Catwoman sneaks into a famous mattresses store’s exposition model. As passersbies stare, a strange man comes in and abducts the beautiful sleeper !

The Catwoman then reappears in a TV studio, still in her nightie. She delivers a commercial for sleep physician Doctor Somnambula.

This entirely reasonable plan reels in J. Pauline Spaghetti, a rich insomniac ! Dr. Somnambula is actually the Sandman, who outmaneuvers Batman and Robin to steal the Spaghetti fortune.

As he leaves with the money, the Sandman leaks the current cat-lair’s address to the police. This leads to the Catwoman’s capture !

That darn Catwoman (S2E40-41)

Catwoman sends her pretty, diminutive sidekick Pussycat to vamp Robin.

Catwoman (Julie Newmar) (Classic Batman 1966 TV series) with Pussycat (Lesley Gore)

With Pussycat and henchmen.

Using her clawed mittens, Pussycat injects Robin with a cat-aphrenic, turning him into a criminal. Soon, he’s helping the Catwoman and her gang rob stately Wayne Manor !

Robberies continue ! Catwoman needs $1M in cash to buy the plans for the Gotham Mint. Batman intercepts the gang, but finds himself unable to hit Robin, who beats him up.

Batman recovers, and shadows the getaway Cat-illac to the cat-lair. Alas, he is captured again and put in a giant snap mouse trap ! Batman agrees to be injected with cat-aphrenic and thus work with Catwoman.

But he has taken an immunity pill ! He discreetly warns the police, who arrest Pussycat and Robin. After a rooftop chase, he also corners Catwoman.

Though she considers becoming his partner, she escapes by diving to her seeming death.

Catwoman goes to college (S2E49)

Catwoman is again imprisoned then paroled. Because this show laughs at your linear time ! However, her parole must take place under the supervision of Gotham Penitentiary Parole Board member Bruce Wayne.

Catwoman (Julie Newmar) (Classic Batman 1966 TV series) with henchmen and cat sunglasses

With henchmen and see-in-the-dark glasses.

Catwoman immediately announces that she’s enrolling at Gotham University. Of course, she’s attending all classes masked and in full costume. What else ?

She and her men steal the life-size Batman statue at Gotham U ! This allows them to create a perfect duplicate of the Batman costume. One of her men, an impressionist, thus frames Batman for theft.

Nevertheless, the Dynamic Duo prevents Catwoman from organising a student protest to cover up a cat’s eye opal  theft. But she tricks them, and puts them into a deathtrap using an animated commercial board !

Catwoman steals the Batagonian cat’s eye opals, but these are too hot to fence. And she then discovers that these are fakes, placed there by Batman !

Catwoman offers to surrender, but this is another stab at seducing Batman. And/or kill him, since she’s wearing poison gas perfume ! After she is arrested, the Catwoman tells Bruce Wayne that her heart belongs to Batman.

This is where I ran out of exclamation marks !


Description

Catwoman has a slight accent of vaguely European origin. Possibly one of the East Coast upper class ones. There are a few Britishisms, bits of a generic English accent, and occasional Francophone-style flat syllables.

Catwoman (Julie Newmar) (Classic Batman 1966 TV series) straw drinking romantic

She has a languid, purring voice and a feline, sensual, graceful body language. Plus a tendency to bare her teeth in a strangely predatory smile. And pretty good comedic timing.

By 1960s standards, the 5’11” Julie Newmar was an unusually tall woman. Batgirl actress Yvonne Craig, who at 5’3″ was of average height for her generation, or the 5’2″ (at most) Lesley Gore, barely reached Newmar’s shoulder.

The Catwoman costume was also fitted to emphasise Ms. Newmar’s exceptional hourglass figure. I have come, over a lifetime spent studying the criminal mind, to suspect that stylised women’s hips featuring in Frank Robbins’ art are based on Ms. Newmar.

Even when disguised, the Catwoman keeps those strange spikes about her eyebrows. Nobody ever notices.

Her henchmen usually have orange shirts (made of genuine bathroom rug fur) with a tiger pattern. And black ushankas with the earflaps up to evoke feline ears.


Personality

Like most Batman ’66 villains, she’s a flamboyant, theatrical, scenery-chewing nutbar. Her dialogue is an unending cat-alogue of puns and allusions to felines.

She seems driven by greed. She once stated that her goal was to never know need again. Which makes little sense, as she’s obviously loaded.

Catwoman also insists that she’s a real lady, and her entourage doubles as servants. She wants them unquestionably obedient at all times.

Other traits

The Catwoman regularly takes cat naps, and occasionally drinks milk from a saucer.

Catwoman (Julie Newmar) (Classic Batman 1966 TV series) electric shock switch dramatic shot

She also likes launching over-the-top flurries of super-feminine charm. Which in the show’s genre will usually work.

Catwoman loves tacky and cat-shaped luxury, recent music and dances, 1960s Swinging London go-go sensibilities, refined French stuff, playfulness, making cat noises, crime, flirting with Batman… and cats, of course.

Her first and only approach to everything is always selfish and illegal. She’s reflexively, intrinsically a criminal.

Keep your tail up

Catwoman’s greatest disappointment in life is that she can’t find herself a good bloke. Gosh Batman, people never seem to appreciate how hard it is to be a model-like dancer and pin-up beauty queen !

Even by her first appearance, there’s a sense that the Catwoman and Batman are having their silly duels of wit as a way of flirting. Though Batman is an impossibly milquetoast and wholesome goody two-shoes, he’s obviously flustered and attracted toward Catwoman.

Catwoman explicitly wants Batman for his 1960s dad bod, and for physical pleasure. This was somewhat risqué by then-contemporary standard, particularly for a show also aimed at children.

This also prolongs the theme of Batman and Robin as whitebread 1950s conformists bewildered by the emerging lifestyles of the late 1960s.


Quotes

“Don’t bother, Batman. This glass is bulletproof, shatterproof and batproof. I’m not just pussyfooting around this time.”

“Meow.”

“Poor Robin ! Did the itty-bitty kitty ruffle your feathers ?”

“What’s the matter ? Cat got your tongue ?” (strange sniggering)

“Tsk tsk and another tsk, Batman. Why don’t you just admit I’m smarter than you are and let it go at that ?”

“TTFN !”

“Watch your language, knave. Remember, I’m a lady.”

Catwoman: “The receptors have been coated with margarine, to make you more… fryable.”
Robin: “Holy oleo !”
Catwoman (slightly puzzled): “I didn’t know you could yodel.”

Batman (scandalised): “Have you no sense of decency ?!”
Catwoman (enthusiastic): “Not a shred !”

(Swooning) “One of the few joys I have in life is when Batman’s rich, manly baritone caresses my ears with ‘Catwoman, you’re under arrest !'”.

“Oh, you’re so strong and forceful, Batman. And your mouth is so assured when there’s anger in your eyes. They’re a-flashing under that mask.”

Batman: “Catwoman, I find you to be odious, abhorrent and insegrevious .”
Catwoman: “Dealing with you has expanded my vocabulary.”

Batman: “I’ll do everything to rehabilitate you !”
Catwoman: “Marry me !”
Batman: “Uh, everything except that.”



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Catwoman ’66

Dex: 02 Str: 01 Bod: 02 Motivation: Thrill/Mercenary
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 03 Occupation: Lady of criminal leisure
Inf: 04 Aur: 05 Spi: 03 Wealth: 007
Init: 010 HP: 015

Skills:
Animal handling (Felines): 05, Artist (Actress, dancer): 05, Charisma (Persuasion): 05, Gadgetry: 05, Military science (Demolitions): 05, Thief: 06, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Advantages:
Attractive, Expertise (Disguise, Chemistry), Familiarity (Cat-achuting, High diving, Sewing work), Genius, Headquarters (variable).

Connections:
Street (Low), Underworld (Low), Gossip columnists (Low).

Drawbacks:
MIA toward Greed, MIA toward Kitties, MPR (Respiratory allergy to dogwood)

Equipment:

  • CLAWED GLOVES [BODY 03, Claws: 04]. These are of course never used for combat – only utility.
  • Cat o’ nine tails [BODY 03, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 04), Stretching: 00]. It’s not used much past her first appearance, presumably for lack of a stunts budget.
  • Sleep gas aerosol [BODY 01, Knockout gas: 06, Ammo: 01, Miniaturisation: 01, Limitations: Gas has no Range/AoE, Gas can affect user]. This is usually hidden in the handle of her cat o’ nine tails, but sometimes it’s in her clawed gloves. Once it looks like a small perfume spray, and the gas is indeed perfumed.
  • 1960s necklace [BODY 01. It has a built-in watch with an alarm-clock that does kitten meowing noises].
  • Her hideout has cat-shaped telephones that meow instead of ringing. Are we impressed yet ?

Catwoman (Julie Newmar) (Classic Batman 1966 TV series) with Jaguar and cat-o-nine-tails

With her Jaguar and her cat-o-nine-tails.

Equipment:
Plan-specific gear includes :

  • Throwing cat [BODY 01, Poison touch: 05, Grenade drawback]. An ordinary house cat with dark fur. Catwoman tosses it at people, who collapse as the cat tries to hang onto them. Because the kitty’s claws are dipped in cat-o-cor neurotoxin !
  • Cat-dart pistols with cat-aleptic tranqs (x2) [BODY 02, Poison touch: 07, Range: 03, Ammo: 01, R#03, Thief (Stealth): 01, Limitation: Thief only to muffle the shots]. Cheap plastic toy pistols with a panther-shaped receiver.
  • A white Jaguar E-Type  convertible. Meow.
  • Sleep gas mini-bomb [BODY 01, Knockout gas: 06, Miniaturisation: 02, Grenade Drawback]. Sometimes she uses a “sneeze bomb” instead, which makes people uncontrollably sneeze for a while. This is why they call it a “sneeze bomb”, Robin.
  • Knockout drug [BODY 01, Poison touch: 06]. This is camouflaged as her compact. Catwoman needs to dip her gloves’ claws into the powder, then lightly nick her targets with a Blindside Attack.
  • An electronic gadget that can make people mute then replay their voice. It works even over the phone.
  • See-in-the-dark glasses [BODY 01, Ultra-vision: 03]. What, no, of course they’re not cheap sunglasses with coloured paper taped on.
  • Her henchmen sometimes are issued sonic rifles, but these are never fired. She once uses a sonic pistol, which is oddly similar to the cat-dart pistol. It has something like [BODY 01, Sonic beam: 04].
  • Two versions of the cat-acombs. These are underground mazes allegedly based on mice-using experiments.
  • A cat-omizer squirting deadly cat-asonic acid. Oddly enough, it looks exactly like the previous two models of cat-pistol.
  • The cat-aphrenic drug, which “reverses all moral and ethical standards and causes a person to become their exact opposite”. It can be treated as Hypnosis: 07.
  • Her Cat-illac, which is simply a black 1966 Cadillac Coupé De Ville  convertible.
  • Cat-tle prods [BODY 02, Lightning (No Range): 05, Ammo: 04] are once issued to her thugs to capture Batman.
  • Silentmite, a “new explosive that makes no noise”.
  • A remote control built into her necklace, triggering the class bell at Gotham U.
  • Poison perfume, which she calls Eau de chat. This reportedly kills persons in close vicinity with her within 30 seconds or so.

Design Notes

Yes, the Batman ’66 power levels ain’t the highest.

*All* Combat is Bashing, of course. And the ability to obtain or invent weird tech is considered entirely normal, though I did add the Genius Advantage for clarity.

Having Attractive is also easy in this genre. Guys are insta-bamboozled by a pretty sheila, strewth. Most of them have the Innocent Drawback as well.

STR

As often, STR 01 is used to emphasise that she isn’t any sort of fighter or athlete. If there’s a brawl she’ll just watch and brush her hair, redo her lipstick, mime fighting, or look bored.

She physically attacks Batman but once. And that’s done by falling onto him from a height, as a Charge.

Even a STR 02 beat cop can overpower her. Or rather could, since she never tries to resist. And she had difficulties carrying a small bag of treasure.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Batman 1960s TV series.

Helper(s): Darci, Mack. https://www.petersen.org/1965-winfield-reactor  for confirming that the Cat-illac was indeed a Coupé De Ville. Since could also have been a Fleetwood Eldorado.

Writeup completed on the 12th of November, 2019.