Bruce Edwin - The Hollywood Sentinel: Julie I want to begin at the beginning. Most people that know of you, know of course your legendary role in TV's Batman, as Catwoman- of course, but you began, what many may not realize, way before that, in many other TV shows and films. Also I have learned that you were a dancer.
Julie Newmar: Well, that's why Catwoman worked! I always thought it was not (being) appreciated in films - for my dancing, but almost the opposite thing happened. As an actress, having (also) been a dancer, the part of Catwoman worked superbly.
The Hollywood Sentinel: I definitely agree.
Julie Newmar: Or if you're a bird, They give you a costume as a bird, and you're right from the get go!
Hollywood Sentinel: (Laughs) Right! I want to come back to that role in a moment, but I want to go back to your earlier work for a moment and to your work as a dancer. I read that you began as a dancer, and that you began in ballet, and I read that you worked for Universal Studios…
Julie Newmar: When I was nineteen.
Hollywood Sentinel: Nineteen years old! And you were a choreographer?
Julie Newmar: Yes, A dancer and choreographer.
Hollywood Sentinel: At Universal Studios…
Julie Newmar: Yes, a dance-in. Do you know what a dance-in is? They don't do that anymore (… ) well it's the same thing as a stunt double…
Hollywood Sentinel: OK, yes, or a stand-in…
Julie Newmar: Yes, much more done in the past than now a days.
Hollywood Sentinel: I see, and so your dancing career really took off…
Julie Newmar: For someone almost six feet tall, you could say that it took off!
Hollywood Sentinel: (laughs), So you ended up on Broadway, can you tell us about that?
Julie Newmar: Yes, I started in Hollywood, because I was born in the Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, not far from Disney, as a matter of fact, my father built a house there, I grew up there, in the hills, looking out at the Pacific Ocean.
Hollywood Sentinel: And you studied dance?
Julie Newmar: Yes, as a dancer I studied almost every form of dance available for someone living in America.
Hollywood Sentinel: What really made you want to begin in dance and acting? How did you begin?
Julie Newmar: My dear, my beautiful, my darling mother who was unable to finish her career as a dancer- she was in the Ziegfeld Follies, on Broadway, gave me all the opportunities that were not possible for her, which is how most people's stories are, right?
Hollywood Sentinel: That's incredible, so she helped, not just helped but she...
Julie Newmar: She made it possible, drove me to ballet, to dance, to tap, to Spanish, to Flamenco (…)
Hollywood Sentinel: Wow! And you were what age when you started all these classes?
Julie Newmar: Probably five.
Hollywood Sentinel: That's amazing, and at nineteen you were doing choreography for Universal Studios, and when did you end up on Broadway?
Julie Newmar: When I was nineteen actually, early twenties, I had done 'Seven Brides For Seven Brothers' (as Dorcas Gailen with MGM) for Michael Kidd (choreographer), and then took that money, and bought a plane ticket and went to New York - didn't tell my parents- and luckily started out right away on Broadway, so the second thing I did was Lil'Abner, for Michael Kidd (first the hit Broadway Musical, and then the film version for Paramount, as Stupefyin' Jones).
Hollywood Sentinel: O.K. And what was it like for a young women back then in Hollywood, we hear today of imbalances of race or gender, what was it like for you back then as a young woman?
Julie Newmar: I can't think that it was any harder or any easier, you just did what you loved, and you were good at, and fortunately in my case, I had had all this preparation you see, after I finished one school my mother would say, you go to another school (…)
Hollywood Sentinel: Right, so you had the foundation, and knew what you were doing. Now in the schooling you had, they obviously taught the art, but did they teach the business too? Did you learn the business side of the industry in classes in school or did you have to learn that on your own?
Julie Newmar: No not at all, only the art, you just floated in our own realm, and you hoped someone noticed you!
Hollywood Sentinel: Wow. Did you have many agents when you were beginning to get all these jobs?
Julie Newmar: No, no agent! An agent comes after you're famous, they come and say, well, I see you're ready to work with me now! (laughs)
Hollywood Sentinel: (Laughs) Around what time did you get your first team of people representing you?
Julie Newmar: Oh dear, I remember his name was Shurr, his brother was in Hollywood, and Louie Shurr was in New York, and he saw a seven foot poster of me in front of the Saint James Theatre, when I was performing in Lil' Abner as Stupefyin' Jones, and he said, "Ah! Perfect! She's good for a new comedy coming up called Marriage Go Round!"
Hollywood Sentinel: And so did things speed up for you then with him?
Julie Newmar: They do, and at that point, if you're discovered, which you usually are in New York, where they keep an eye on things (…) then you become bi-coastal. And, low and behold, I had an apartment on Carper Avenue in Los Angeles, and on Eaton Place, in New York.
Bruce Edwin - Hollywood Sentinel: That's great. I want to kind of skip ahead now- you did so much work there in between - but I want to come up now to the later work, that most of the world knows you for, and that is of course Catwoman. Now, what was this like for you, did you realize when you were doing this role how big of an impact it would have?
Julie Newmar: I think the things one thinks about is creating the role, however, I knew it was brilliant because the writing was brilliant, a man by the name of Bob Kane, and Stanley Ralph Ross created the hour long shows that I did as Catwoman on the Batman series. It was innate for me, all I had to do was put on the costume and walk on the set. The costume in (their) words played the scene.
Hollywood Sentinel: Well I agree. I recall watching you as a young guy growing up, and I think I share this with most any guy, straight or gay…
Julie Newmar: (Laughs) You're right on both accounts!
Bruce Edwin - Hollywood Sentinel: (laughs) …and that was that- I'll admit, I had a total crush on you!
Julie Newmar: Thank you, and that's what my second book is about! My second book is-thanks to you, and all those red blooded American boys out there, who are all now Daddy's and Granddad's, and I thank them all--constantly for their passion, and the second book is called 'First Fantasy,' and it is just charming stories about the first image that boys and young men see on T.V. or whatever, that get (them) turned on, that lights their fire! (laughs)
Hollywood Sentinel: (Laughs) That's great.
Julie Newmar: And I have just gorgeous stories, and I'm looking for more. It's going to be the new chicken soup book, of first fantasies, or virtual fantasies…I like that- virtual fantasies!
Bruce Edwin - Hollywood Sentinel: I do too. Now let me explore that for a moment…
Julie Newmar: Well, what would you like?!
Hollywood Sentinel: (laughs)
Julie Newmar: Gotcha!
Bruce Edwin - Hollywood Sentinel: (laughs) Did you get a lot of backlash from parents at the time, who were against the sexuality conveyed by you in that role?
Julie Newmar: Well, I was completely dressed! There were no four letter words!
Bruce Edwin - Hollywood Sentinel: I know!
Julie Newmar: Think about it now, think about it- you're not looking at what you see today- you're looking at highly charged, normal and natural energy between two people. Hello?! Hallelujah! Hurray! How neat, how purr-fect, and that was healthy!
Bruce Edwin - Hollywood Sentinel: I completely agree, but I feel at the time it was so provocative…
Julie Newmar: But little boys at the time, they're not going to run and tell their mothers, they're going to wonder what happened, they're going to think, I don't understand, I don't get it, what's that mean? Later on that divine impulse connects itself with something here in the now, in the present day, this is why these stories are so gorgeous—that people send me—because they tell me, oh gosh, I always loved that girl with blonde hair when I first saw here when I was five years old! And now my wife has long blonde shiny hair just like the first girl I fell in love with! I can't tell you how great these stories are…
Bruce Edwin - The Hollywood Sentinel: That's excellent, that's great…
Julie Newmar: Mmmm!
Bruce Edwin - Hollywood Sentinel: Now, I said the line earlier about gay and straight men, now why do you feel that you've been so embraced and loved in the gay community?
Julie Newmar: Is it because I'm tall?
Hollywood Sentinel: (Laughs)
Julie Newmar: You ask them! Do they want me to be Debbie Reynolds? I love Debbie Reynolds, but she's about five feet two!
Bruce Edwin - Hollywood Sentinel: (laughs), is she? I didn't know that!
Julie Newmar: (…) or Judy Garland! She was about 5-2… (reportedly only 4 foot, 11 and a half inches)
Bruce Edwin - The Hollywood Sentinel: The first thing I noticed about you Julie-that any one that has the pleasure to speak with you and hear your voice off screen will notice-is that your voice off screen is not much different than the voice of Catwoman that you used to do…
Julie Newmar: Ooooh, well, would you want it to be? Wouldn't you want there to be me?
Bruce Edwin - Hollywood Sentinel: (Laughs)
Julie Newmar: Wouldn't you want a little stroking? And a little feline adulation?
Bruce Edwin - The Hollywood Sentinel: Oh my!
To be continued in next issue…
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