Remember Julie Newmar? She became a household name in the mid-1960s when she appeared as Catwoman in the campy TV series Batman. A seductive, sultry, and strong female villain, Catwoman was later played by other actresses including Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether, Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry.
But Julie Newmar originated the role and many feel she was the best. So whatever happened to Julie Newmar?
Jane Wollman Rusoff tells her story in a WomensWallStreet.com article that reads like an old Jacqueline Susann novel.
Newmar married an attorney and at age 46, after several miscarriages, gave birth to a son in 1980. John was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome and two inoperable holes in his heart. Newmar's husband left her shortly afterwards and the couple later divorced. If that wasn't enough, at age two John lost his hearing after a bout of meningitis.
Newmar could have placed her son in an institution. Instead, she started a new life by putting her acting career aside and staying home to raise John. To pay the bills, she supported herself by managing real estate, earning income from a handful of residential and retail properties in the Hollywood area left to her by her mother. She attended night classes at UCLA to learn the ropes.
She sought out individuals involved in creative pursuits as tenants for her rental properties, believing her mission should include supporting people in their dreams. By doing so, she helped improve the neighborhood and earned millions in the process.
Her financial independence has created a secure future for her son John, now in his twenties. He communicates using American Sign Language, goes to a special-ed day school, and travels around the world with his mother. His success is her success:
He teaches me about life -- instead of wanting and getting and all the stuff that turns us into disagreeable humans. The whole thing is to have a complete life, not simply to be rich or famous. You've got to have the soul and the heart.
It may not have taken her nine lives. But somewhere in the transition from famous actress to stay-at-home mom, adult learner, property manager and finally real estate tycoon, Julie Newmar got it right.
Rusoff, Jane Wollman. "Holy Catsuit! To the Original Catwoman, Her Son Is the Cat's Meow." WomensWallStreet.com 4 October 2007.