Julie Newmar’s career has included a Tony Award-winning role in 1958’s The Marriage-Go-Round, a crazy cameo as a fierce runway model in the video for George Michael’s “Too Funky,” and a Patrick Swyaze movie with her name in the title. But she’s best remembered as Catwoman in the seminal 1960s TV series Batman, costarring Adam West as the Caped Crusader.
West died on June 9 in Los Angeles after a battle with leukemia. He was 88. Newmar paid tribute to her lifelong friend:
Oh, Adam was such a sweetheart. It was right there, his goodness, from the first time I met him, 51 years ago. And it was the same when I saw him last month. He was still his charming, ebullient, bouncy, slightly silly self. When we were in Batman together, I think the biggest feeling we both had was just: “Let’s enjoy every minute of this.”
I almost have tears in my eyes when I think of the responses I’ve gotten since I received the call from Adam’s agent. My phone and my email have just exploded with responses. I’ve never seen anything like it. The emails I’ve gotten from fans of Adam have been so beautifully written. Why has my Facebook page lit up like gangbusters? It’s gone berserk. And I was asking myself this morning, “What was the bigness of this Batman all about?”
As it’s been mentioned many times, back then in 1966, we were all at the end of a kind of sweetheart period in the culture, after Eisenhower and Kennedy. And when you think of how people have behaved in the decades since, in terms of the, shall we say, pleasantness of their manners, you realize why Adam was so special and so beloved.
People have talked about the campiness of our Batman, but there was a terrific straightness in Adam’s performance. He had a great capacity to be silly, but he was also so real. I mean, even look at his body. He didn’t have those huge fake shoulders. For him, it was about being present and not so exaggerated and not tipping the balance of things into the totally unrelatable. A lot of that other stuff — that’s what people do in lieu of being genuine.
But Adam knew how to float on his wonderful realness. People so often say it to us: “We love the original TV version of Batman. The others are just too dark.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with dark, but I think what they mean is “too forced, too much war, too much pain.”
Because of our chemistry in the show, it’s always been spoken about, the question of how close Adam and I really were personally. I’ve often been asked if our relationship was behind-the-scenes sexual and all that. I’ve never spoken on that topic — and I’d like it to always have the question mark because it continues to involve the audience’s excitement. But if you want to talk about the quality of our chemistry onscreen, well — oh, come on! — of course it was all sexual. It was just as flamingly, richly sexual back then as we are today. It was all play and all sex. That’s what life is all about.
On YouTube, there is a clip, about three minutes long, of a seduction scene in which Catwoman is trying to seduce Batman with a poisonous perfume.
Even though, partially, it looks dated, essentially it’s still all there, with the teasing and sexiness and all that goes on between two people of any age or any sex. Adam and I had some juicy dialogue, and we were dressed right, and we played it with all of our bottomless sincerity. That was the epitome. We had fun, and that was the essence of Adam: fun, fun, fun. That is who he was.