Meow! A Brief History of Actresses Who Have Purr-formed Catwoman
Today, Waner Bros. announced that Anne Hathaway will be playing the role of Selina Kyle in Christopher Nolan's upcoming Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. Though it went unsaid in the press release, it's a safe bet to assume that Kyle -- who, in every other iteration of Batman, becomes Catwoman -- will transform into Batman's arch nemesis in this version, too. What does Hathaway have in store for her in terms of living up to the on-screen presence of Catwoman when she (we presume) dons her leather suit? Let's take a look back at the history of other actresses to play Ms. Kyle on-screen.
Julie Newmar in Batman (Television Series) (1966)
Batman's beginnings as live action started in a 1943 serial, but most of the villains were run of the mill thugs as opposed to the rouges gallery that Batman became known for in later years. Julie Newmar was the first actress to ever portray Catwoman on-screen, which she did for 12 episodes over the course of two seasons on the 1960s campy Adam West television series. She left before the third season to pursue film work and did not participate in the feature film that was shot after the first season due to prior commitments.
Lee Meriwether in Batman (Theatrical Film) (1966)
After the first season of the Batman television series, a theatrical film was shot in effort to capitalize the popularity of the series. Julie Newmar, who portrayed Catwoman in the series, was not available and was replaced -- in the film only -- by Lee Meriwether. Newmar would return as Catwoman when the second season started shooting. Meriwether would guest twice on the series as a socialite named Lisa Carson.
Eartha Kitt in Batman (Television Series) (1967)
A popular assumption aside, Halle Berry (we will get to her in a bit) was not the first African-American actress to portray Catwoman. Eartha Kitt, best known for her rendition of the Christmastime classic, "Santa Baby," played the role (save for one episode) during the third a final season of the Batman television series. Kitt would go on to win a Best Actress in a Musical Tony award in 1978 for her role in Timbuktu!, and another Tony for The Wild Party in 2000. Sadly, Kitt passed away, on Christmas Day, in 2008.
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