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The Catwoman: Batman's Sexiest Adversary and Femme Fatale

Deadliest of the Species

 

Batman had a large rogue’s gallery of villains since his debut in 1939 that continually returned to menace him.  The Joker, the Riddler, Ra’s al Ghul and the Penguin were among the most famous and dangerous.  One villain in particular stood out from the others, however:  Selina Kyle, also known as the Catwoman.  Catwoman was as cunning and malevolent as any of Batman’s enemies, but she was also a beautiful, alluring woman with a soft spot in her heart for the Caped Crusader.

The Catwoman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger for DC Comics and was said to be inspired by both 1930’s actress Jean Harlow and Ruth Steel, Kane’s second cousin by marriage.  She first appeared in Batman comics #1 in 1940 as the Cat.  This femme fatale was originally created both to provide a romantic interest for Batman and to appeal to female readers. 

 

Catwoman in Batman and Detective Comics.  The origin and details of Catwoman’s career in comics are convoluted, as might be expected with a character encompassing 70 years of comics’ history.  Her first appearance depicted her as a burglar and jewel thief without superhuman powers.  She turned to crime after a blow to the head gave her amnesia and altered her personality.  It was later suggested her amnesia was a ruse to allow for an escape from her life of crime.  The Catwoman did reform for several years, actually aiding Batman in several criminal cases before eventually resuming her criminal career.  Post-Silver age appearances cast Catwoman as a prostitute, and various details are provided to account for her athletic prowess and talents as a burglar.       

Catwoman in her own comic.  The Catwoman was granted a title of her own following the success of Batman Returns in 1992, and her storyline became more detailed and complicated.  She was an international thief, government operative and bounty hunter who adopted a teenaged runaway and turned her into a sidekick of sorts.  In subsequent issues, her mind was wiped clean by the magical heroine Zatanna and she temporarily reformed.  Years later she gave birth to a daughter and it was implied the child’s father might be Batman.  No matter the era or interpretation of her character, Catwoman’s longing for Batman remained a recurring theme. 

 

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Catwoman in the 60's

Julie Newmar from the Batman television series

Julie Newmar from the Batman television series

Newmar had a natural grace and beauty

Newmar had a natural grace and beauty

Lee Meriwether played Catwoman in the Batman movie

Lee Meriwether played Catwoman in the Batman movie

The former beauty queen was a worthy successor to Julie Newmar

The former beauty queen was a worthy successor to Julie Newmar

Eartha Kitt played Batman in 1968

Eartha Kitt played Batman in 1968

Kitt's rich voice made Catwoman seem truly evil

Kitt's rich voice made Catwoman seem truly evil

Catwoman on the big (and small) screen



Catwoman in television and movies. The Catwoman appeared as a regular villainess in the Batman television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, as well as the 1966 full-length motion picture based upon the series. Three women portrayed Catwoman for these productions. A fourth played Catwoman in the pilot episode of the television series Bird of Prey, while three other actresses claimed the role in Hollywood films.

Julie Newmar (Batman television series 1966 and 1967). In the 1960’s Batman television show, Catwoman appeared nine times. For six episodes she was portrayed by Julie Newmar. The beautiful Ms. Newmar was a statuesque dancer and choreographer who brought not only a lithe grace to the role, but a subtle sense of humor appropriate for the series. She had an on-screen chemistry with Adam West that suggested a genuine attraction between Batman and his deadly female adversary.

Lee Meriwether (Batman 1966). A movie based on the television series premiered in October 1966, with Lee Meriwether cast as Catwoman. (Julie Newmar was scheduled to appear in this movie but was unavailable.) Meriweather was a former beauty queen and added a unique charm to her role, forsaking Newmar’s overt sexuality for a slightly more vulnerable portrayal. Meriwether’s beauty and acting abilities made her a fitting successor to Newmar’s Catwoman.

Eartha Kitt (Batman television series 1967 and 1968). Eartha Kitt donned the cat suit on three occasions during the third season of Batman while Ms. Newmar was filming Mackenna’s Gold. What Kitt lacked in Batman-style charm or comedic instincts, she more than made up for with her fiendish depiction of Catwoman. Eartha Kitt’s voice was rich and sinister, and her presence radiated evil cunning.

Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns 1992). Twenty five years after the Batman television series, Michelle Pfeiffer portrayed Catwoman in the feature film Batman Returns. This was the first indication that Catwoman possessed super-powers (she had nine lives). Michelle Pfeiffer was gorgeous in the oddly-stitched cat suit, but she seemed miscast in the role, projecting far too little sexuality, physical presence or menace.

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Maggie Baird (Birds of Prey 2002). Maggie Baird played Catwoman in flashbacks depicting her death in the pilot episode of Birds of Prey. This television series featured Selina Kyle’s daughter Helena as the Huntress.

Halle Berry (Catwoman 2004). The Catwoman feature film was only loosely based on the DC Comics character and the movie was a failure, despite Halle Berry’s extreme beauty. In this movie Catwoman is a heroine with cat-like abilities granted her by the Egyptian cat-goddess Bastet. Her revealing costume couldn’t compensate for an insipid plot involving the sale of dangerous cosmetics.

Anne Hathaway (Catwoman 2012). Anne Hathaway most recently portrayed the Catwoman in the third installment of Christopher Nolan's trilogy, "The Dark Knight Rises". Hathaway performed exceptionally well in the role, aided by a quality script that emphasized the complexity of the character. Neither truly good or evil, Hathaway found the middle ground that allowed the audience to like her, despite her sometimes treacherous actions.


Catwoman--the later years

Michelle Pfeiffer from Batman Returns

Michelle Pfeiffer from Batman Returns

Pfeiffer was beautiful but miscast

Pfeiffer was beautiful but miscast

Halle Berry stars in Catwoman

Halle Berry stars in Catwoman

The silly plot and overly-revealing costume ruined Bery's chances to shine as Catwoman

The silly plot and overly-revealing costume ruined Bery's chances to shine as Catwoman

Maggie Baird from Birds of Prey

Maggie Baird from Birds of Prey

Anne Hathaway from The Dark Knight Rises

Anne Hathaway from The Dark Knight Rises

Rating the actresses portraying Catwoman


With so many fine performers having played the role, the inevitable question of which actress offered the best portrayal of Catwoman must be raised. There is no objective standard for rating their respective performances, so I will offer instead my personal opinion. My rankings, from best to worst, follow.

1. Julie Newmar. Of the seven actresses to portray the Catwoman, Newmar’s performance was the most outstanding. She exhibited a feline grace that seemed unforced, and (with the exception of Halle Berry) her beauty rivaled that of the other actresses to play the role. The droll wit she added to the character elevated her performance to the top of the list.

2. Anne Hathaway. Hathaway combined beauty, grace and cunning to make her portrayal of Catwoman second only to Newmar's. She gave the role substance and depth, which had never been accomplished previously. The moral ambiguity she demonstrated in "the Dark Knight Rises" could have made Catwoman difficult to like, but Hathaway added charm and vulnerability to the role and made it possible to sympathize with and even like Ms. Selena Kyle.

3. Eartha Kitt. The only woman to make the Catwoman seem truly evil, Kitt’s melodious voice added a sinister quality to her performance. Kitt had the requisite beauty and grace to make a believable Catwoman, and she made the character her own in the third season of Batman.

4. Lee Meriwether. Meriwether gave a credible performance in the 1966 Batman movie, but offered nothing new to the character. Her Catwoman seemed simply a watered-down version of Julie Newmar’s. The strength of her performance rested in her scenes as Miss Kitka, the Russian reporter for the Moscow Bugle.

5. Halle Berry. This gorgeous and talented actress might have done more with better material, but Berry’s performance was doomed by a poor script and a foolish (if sexy) costume. Her efforts to appear cat-like were lost in an abundance of cleavage.

6. Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer seemed miscast in the role of Catwoman. She seemed frail onscreen and lacked presence—her reserved performance as Selina Kyle was equally drab. Batman could never fall for this villainess.

7. Maggie Baird. Her limited appearance in Birds of Prey doomed her to the lowest ranking in my personal poll.


Until someone new comes along with exceptional talent, grace and panache, Julie Newmar will always be Catwoman to me. If I was Batman and this gorgeous woman proposed marriage to me, I would have accepted without hesitation—even if she did suggest killing Robin to get him out of the house.


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Cast your vote!

Poll results



Note: I can't add Anne Hathaway to this poll without losing the votes that have already been cast. If you felt Ms. Hathaway's portrayal of the Catwoman was the best you've seen, leave me a comment and I will periodically update votes here. Thanks for understanding.



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Comments

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on March 21, 2013:

trusouldj, thanks for stopping by, and I apologize for taking months to respond. I agree, Halle Berry wasn't given much to work with, and she tried to make it worthwhile anyway. She is a fine actress and it was a shame she was basically given nothing more than the opportunity to show off her breasts to bring in moviegoers. I agree that Catwoman has become more interesting and complex over time, and it is a shame none of that translated to the screen. I thought Anne Hathaway was given the chance to show off a little bit of Catwoman's complexity in the latest film-- too bad Halle Berry couldn't have enjoyed some of that.

Mike

LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on September 28, 2012:

Poor Halle ... The movie was basically done with the same mentality that DC retcons it comic books. For what it was, it was decent. It just wasn't what we were expecting. But then, Catwoman in the comics in the last decade or so is a much more interesting character than she was originally conceived to be. So go figure.

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on August 01, 2012:

Denise, thanks for stopping by. I will confess that I do not have a crystal ball--I edited this article after I saw the latest Batman movie to reflect how I felt about Anne Hathaway's portrayal of Catwoman. I wanted to ensure this article stayed up-to-date, hoping it would draw readers after the last movie premiered.

I was never a fan of what they did to Catwoman over the years in comics. I know that writers who use certain characters feel they have to add something to them to justify their appearance in a modern comic, but sometimes it is okay to just leave a comic character as he or she was. It isn't necessary to flesh out every detail of their lives. DC is particularly awful about this, taking minor characters like Hawk and Dove and the Creeper and adding elaborate background information to these heroes. I am okay with this to some extent, but eventually it needs to be realized that there's only so much you can do.

Thanks again for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Mike

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on July 26, 2012:

It was great reading your Catwoman article and comparing notes. You've done a much more thorough job of analyzing their performances, which I found interesting. I'm wondering how you wrote about Hathaway that early on...I thought it was 'news' only a year ago? Voted up and interesting.

BTW-the info about the 'post-silver era' & prostitution caught my eye. I always wonder what happens to prostitutes when they get old...??? How do they retire, and DO they retire? :)

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on May 18, 2012:

mts1098, thanks for writing. I'm also looking forward to seeing Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I think she is a great choice for the role, and I am looking forward to it a lot. Thanks again for your comments.

Mike

mts1098 on May 18, 2012:

I cannot wait to see Ann Hathaway in Dark Knight Rises...great job here...voted up

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on July 13, 2010:

Hey, Tom, thanks for coming back and wrapping up our chat. It is indeed interesting to note that, while the circumstances of our education, environment and upbringing are quite similar, we can end up on different sides of an issue. We are each unique, and nothing else will fully explain why we think and behave as we do. As you state, in the end perhaps it was just a matter of your liking Michelle Pfeiffer's performance better than I did. That is certainly possible and, ultimately, the only true answer there is. Agree or not, it is all good.

Thanks for the discussion, I had a good time debating the relative attributes of each actress. Maybe we can do it again sometime.

Mike

ThomasWMutherJr from Topeka, KS on July 12, 2010:

Just to clarify, I wasn't using bias in a pejorative sense. I had used "preconceived notions" 2 or 3 times already and was just attempting to find a close synonym. I recognize that it often is used as a means to describe toxic prejudice, but I was definitely not using it in that sense. I have a bias FOR redheads, for example, but have absolutely no disdain for other hair colorations.

As for my "psychoanalyzing"--I do like to dig into the marrow of things, to try and understand why people are so different, even while conceding (as I did at least twice in the above) that the effort is ultimately doomed as the maze of human experience is too convoluted and complex to ever be able to reach causal bottom. Still, that doesn't mean the effort is necessarily wasted as there is much to be learned in the process—not least of which, in trying to understand others one can learn a great deal about oneself. In all of my “psychoanalysis” above, there was never any effort to ascribe anything pathological about your preference—but there is a reason for everything, even if we can never fully fathom it. In my futile effort to rummage about your cerebral attic (as well as my own to an extent), I learned a good deal from your responses, but still the reason why two intelligent males, reasonably well educated, brought up in the same culture, could view this performance so differently eludes me. “Fascinating” as our friend Mr. Spock would say.

In the end, my attempt at self-mockery at my analyses undoubtedly comes closest to an explanation: “[P]erhaps I just happened to like Pfeiffer's performance, and you did not. Is that possible?”

Cheerio!

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on July 12, 2010:

Tom,

As you suggested earlier this discussion is outgrowing its real value, but I will take a final crack at articulating my position. First of all, when I say the Catwoman stands out, that is present time. As I mentioned, as a kid the Catwoman was a “girl” and I actually preferred the Riddler as a nemesis for Batman. I was not particularly taken by her grace or beauty until viewing it from an adult perspective—the point of view from which this was written, several weeks ago. Perhaps I wasn’t precise with my use of past and present tenses, but I also never counted on being psychoanalyzed to this extent, simply for sharing my opinion. Which leads me to my second point: why the psychoanalysis, anyway? Why is it assumed that there must be a deep-rooted fixation stemming from my childhood for me to possibly prefer Julie Newmar to Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman? Could it be that I saw no menace whatsoever in her cheerleader style back-flips, thinking it more a halftime stunt at Allen Field House than a threat to Batman (and, in fact, almost nonsensical in its lack of true purpose)? Perhaps there is an equal possibility that your preference for Pfeiffer stems from some childhood incident that shaped your psyche: who knows, maybe someone who looked like Pfeiffer threatened you as a child—hence, your insistance that Pfeiffer made a more threatening Catwoman.

Out of the eleven people that voted in my poll, 36% selected Newmar as the “best” Catwoman. In comparison, only 18% preferred Michelle Pfeiffer. Do the others share my need for psychoanalysis in your eyes, or could it be that Julie Newmar performed credibly enough at least for consideration as the best Catwoman? If so, you make far too much out of my final comments. In what way is saying "Until someone new comes along with exceptional talent, grace and panache, Julie Newmar will always be Catwoman to me" biased? If I were to paraphrase, I would say, “Julie Newmar is my favorite Catwoman until someone I like better comes along.” Sounds pretty open-minded to me, and it only means that Newmar was my favorite of the women who played Catwoman so far. Lots of folks will have favorites—it doesn’t suggest bias.

In the interest of bringing this to a conclusion, I will concede Michelle Pfeiffer’s talent and abilities. As you have acknowledged good qualities in Newmar’s performance as Catwoman, I will allow that Pfeiffer brought a quirky charm to the role, even while portraying her as a psychotic. Obviously, my belief that she was miscast didn’t prevent you and many others from enjoying her performance as Catwoman, and this is a tribute to the job she did. As you suggest, it is indeed possible that you like Michelle Pfeiffer best and I like Julie Newmar best, and that is all there is to be said (several thousand words later…..). Shall we call this debate a draw?

Okay, what should we talk about next????

Thanks for stopping by, Tom.

Mike

By the way, I visited my folks this evening and told them you said hello. They expressed hopes that you will drop in sometime, and also that you are doing well.

ThomasWMutherJr from Topeka, KS on July 12, 2010:

Ah! And I forgot to add one further thing to my argument that your bias toward Newmar's Catwoman prevented you from appreciating Pfeiffer's performance--your words, to wit: "Until someone new comes along with exceptional talent, grace and panache, Julie Newmar will always be Catwoman to me." Hmm. Sounds like there is an awful lot of preconceived notion to overcome there, eh? LOL.

Cheerio!

ThomasWMutherJr from Topeka, KS on July 12, 2010:

LOL! I think our discussion here is approaching a point of diminishing returns. Perhaps a little “acrimony” is what is needed. Okay, I'll give it a shot. Mike, you miserable boneheaded slut! There. In some circles the argument would now be considered won by yours truly.

To your rebuttals of my most recent rebuttals of your rebuttals of my rebuttals—No. 1: Twice as threatening as non-threatening is still non-threatening. And even if it were valid to say Newmar's superior size made her a better Catwoman PHYSICALLY, Michelle Pfeiffer had the ability to project a harder edge (see “White Oleander” where she was the kind of woman that if you were her boyfriend? and she turned her wrath on you?--you'd want to change your name and move to Tierra del Fuego) than did Newmar who came across as unfailingly sweet [though I'll say that part of her appeal as The Catwoman WAS the underlying sweetness which played nicely against her villainy—thus, when she says of Robin, “We'll kill him,” it makes the line all the more hilarious—wait a minute! Who's side am I on here? ;-) But may I point out that this “strength” in the TV series may not have worked as well on the big screen, as the earlier films, though not without humor, had a much darker tone entirely devoid of camp]. For me, the harder edge/psychosis coupled with the interposed scenes with the gymnast/stunt double made her actually the more threatening of the two.

As to my “assumption” that I “somehow assume[d] that [you] preferred Julie Newmar’s Catwoman to Cesar Romero’s Joker or any other villain from the television series”--I suggest that it wasn't much of a stretch. You say you “never said that,” but you DID write: “One villain in particular stood out from the others, however:  Selina Kyle, also known as the Catwoman.  Catwoman was as cunning and malevolent as any of Batman’s enemies, but she was also a beautiful, alluring woman with a soft spot in her heart for the Caped Crusader.” When I read the words “stood out from the others” I did indeed make the assumption that she was your favorite—but your words do imply this. Whether this is an accurate reflection of your feelings is another question, but based on your words I believe most people would have come to this conclusion. And if she had been your favorite as your words imply, than my argument about your preconceived notions of the character being harder to overcome make perfect sense.

Which isn't to say that these “notions” would be imPOSSible to overcome. I'm just offering thoughts on why our views of this performance (Pfeiffer's) are SO diametrically opposed. Which leads to your final rebuttal of my rebuttal of . . . etc. You make a very good point. It does seem on its face that I am suggesting your opinions of the Newmar/Pfeiffer dichotomy lack objective perspective when compared to mine. And it's true--I am in fact making that claim. Not because your intellect is “inferior” in anyway to mine (obviously), nor that your objectivity is, in general, in any way compromised vis-à-vis my own. In this case, however, your esteem for the Newmar Catwoman was established when you were still a child. For most of us, our feelings for favorite places, things, people, books, TV shows, what have you, that develop in our formative years often—not always to be sure--retain an aura of affection and nostalgia immutable to the ravages of later experience, logic, or evolving tastes. This is what I suggest MAY be at work here. My esteem for Pfeiffer and Harlow developed when childhood was but a distant memory (indeed, much of the charm of Jean Harlow in particular would have very much been beyond the ken of a child). I do not view them through the haze of nostalgia and thus may be better able to assess their strengths/weaknesses with dispassion.

On the other hand, perhaps I just happened to like Pfeiffer's performance, and you did not. Is that possible?

Well, perhaps I will get around to looking into your Star Wars/Star Trek comparison, being a big fan of both. As to the others you mention—Ginger/Mary Ann, Brady Bunch/Partridge Family, I having absolutely nothing invested in those programs and watched them very rarely, so I wouldn't have anything useful to offer.

Cheerio!

PS. I note I goofed in one of my earlier entries above (I mean, beside the innumerable typos, dropped words, malapropisms, etc.) when I mentioned “Batman Forever” (decent if not inspired) as being one of the worst superhero films of all time when I was clearly referencing “Batman and Robin.”

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on July 12, 2010:

Hey, Tom, welcome back. I wondered what happened to you and found it hard to believe you would simply drop this conversation. I will try to be brief in my response as well, but we will see what happens.

Your first rebuttal: When comparing the ability of Newmar and Pfeiffer to appear menacing, you sum up your points and your references to mine by asking “even if it’s true, what does it mean?” If it is true, it means Newmar was better in the role of Catwoman….right? I do feel my arguments about who is MORE menacing are valid. If an eight year old boy and a twelve year old boy are trying to look tough, the twelve year old is apt to be more successful, even if neither are particularly menacing to an adult. If I must pick one of the two to act tough, I’ll go with the twelve year old. The twelve year old is better suited than the eight year old and becomes an obvious if still unlikely choice. I believe Newmar is “tougher” than Pfeiffer. Maybe she isn’t tough, but she’s tougher. When you suggest she looked tough because Adam West did not, well—you are absolutely correct in that regard. Adam West was hardly the guy to strike fear in the hearts of criminals, but this isn’t really about him.

Your second rebuttal: Well, we’ve known each other a long time, but you are making some assumptions about me. You somehow assume that I preferred Julie Newmar’s Catwoman to Cesar Romero’s Joker or any other villain from the television series, but I never said that. As a child I believe Frank Gorshin’s Riddler was my favorite of Batman’s catalog of TV villains. Since the focus of this article was Catwoman, comparing her to the Joker or Riddler would be extraneous. If my article debated who the best Joker might have been and I chose Jack Nicholson, would you say I was biased against Cesar Romero because my favorite TV villain was the Catwoman? I must respond with your own words and ask: even if it’s true, what does it mean? It is convoluted logic to assert that I must have liked Julie Newmar better than Cesar Romero; therefore, I am incapable of seeing Michelle Pfeiffer in a proper perspective. If you’re asserting that I liked Julie Newmar and her portrayal of Catwoman so very much more than any other Batman villain, I have to say you’re making an invalid assumption.

Your final rebuttal: You are putting yourself in my shoes now and telling me I’m making an assumption about your own admiration for Michelle Pfeiffer. In comparing Pfeiffer to Jean Harlow, you ask me to believe that your admiration for Harlow does not diminish your ability to see her truthfully—as an actress just as capable of making a bad movie as a good one. Okay, I will give you that. You are unwilling to grant me the same clarity of perspective, however. I am hardly saying Julie Newmar was a favorite actress of mine, or that she is more talented and beautiful than Michelle Pfeiffer. In fact, Pfeiffer is far and away the superior actress and one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. I just believe Newmar was the better Catwoman, and I feel I can make this assertion with the same clarity you ascribe yourself. It isn’t about how I perceived Adam West or Cesar Romero as a child, or anyone else—just Julie Newmar versus Michelle Pfeiffer.

Well, Tom, I am enjoying the discussion and hope you will feel free to continue it as you wish. Like your final comment, I hope you realize I mean no disrespect to Michelle Pfeiffer--or to Halle Berry, Eartha Kitt or Lee Meriwether, for that matter. I also respect your opinions, even if I don't share them this time.

Discussing Catwoman with you certainly doesn’t carry the same acrimony found on my Wilt Chamberlain/Michael Jordan page—not that I thought it would. I would invite you to visit my article comparing Ginger with Mary Ann, Star Trek with Star Wars, the Partridge Family with the Brady Bunch, etc. I would be interested in knowing what your thoughts are, so you should take the poll. Who knows, we might disagree on absolutely everything! Perhaps someday soon we can continue this discussion over a pizza or something (or we can keep going here, if you prefer). I will certainly tell my folks you said hello, and I hope all is well for you.

(I didn’t keep my response short, either—did I?)

Take care.

Mike

ThomasWMutherJr from Topeka, KS on July 12, 2010:

Oh! Just a side note. I don't mean to impugn Julie Newmar. She was, after all, a doll, and projected an appealing personality onscreen.

Cheerio!

ThomasWMutherJr from Topeka, KS on July 12, 2010:

Actually, I had written a full-fledged response to your counter-argument to my counter-argument a short time after yours appeared, only to inadvertently delete them (this site has a weird quirk in that when you open another screen and then comeback to what you were writing, everything is highlighted as if one were about to copy it. Well, if you hit a key, everything is gone. After an hour's work, seeing it all go down the drain was too much, so I gave up the task—but I'm back, with a streamlined version). To be brief (or at least, briefER), first of all I don't think your argument about Newmar being more threatening than Pfeiffer holds up. Even if it's true, what does that mean? I could say a grasshopper is more threatening than a butterfly, and a case could be made to support that argument, but the grasshopper remains utterly UNthreatening, at least to humans. Okay, Newmar is a little taller, a little heavier, but she still remains devoid of threat. And if she is not threatening, it just doesn't make sense to insist she's a better Catwoman because Pfeiffer isn't threatening enough. Part of what is required here is a suspension of disbelief. We know that neither Pfeiffer nor Newmar nor any other actress could pose a credible threat to the Batman in the films (at least, not on the basis of brawn), but we go along and pretend that they have abilities that make them worthy adversaries. We see Pfeiffer, or her stunt double, doing multiple back-flips and other athletic moves and we nod and go along (at least, most of us do). For reasons uniquely your own, you weren't able to successfully do that with Pfeiffer's portrayal, but were able to do it with Newmar (even though I don't think she was ever given the benefit of having stunt doubles doing complicated gymnastic moves). Perhaps part of the reason for this was that the TV Batman was hardly an imposing physical specimen so Newmar didn't come off as being so obviously over matched. Also, I still think my argument about your preconceived notions of what Catwoman should be like still holds some water.

Which is my second point. I think you effectively countered my arguments in this regard, but nonetheless, I think they still may be valid. It may be true that your experience with the TV Joker in your formative years didn't prevent you from enjoying Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledger, but then, it is only too obvious that Caesar Romero could hardly hold a candle to your feelings for Newmar—not to mention that it seems very clear that The Catwoman was far and away your favorite villain in the series. Thus, the nostalgic hold Newmar/Catwoman had on your psyche undoubtedly would have colored your appreciation of anyone in that role to a degree far exceeding what it would have for the other panoply of villains. I don't wish to overstate here. I'm suggesting this as part of the reason we see the performance of Pfeiffer so differently. Obviously, in a million years we would never be able to completely account for the reasons each of us appreciate one thing but not another. So many things influence us, things that often have long since been forgotten but whose traces still linger.

And finally, as to your suggestion that my unbridled passion for Michelle Pfeiffer has crippled my ability to objectively judge her performance . . . good try but might I suggest that this is so much balderdash :-). Consider: A particular favorite of mine is Jean Harlow. For me, she is the sexiest actress to ever grace the screen, and one of it's most talented. Michelle Pfeiffer does not hold a candle to Harlow in terms of my appreciation. In other venues I have waxed poetic about both Harlow's appearance and her comedic gifts. A large poster of her adorns one of my walls. There is no actress I hold in higher esteem. Thus, according to your theory, I should be incapable of rationally evaluating her performances and would ascribe nothing but superlatives to every one. In the films, "Red Dust," "Dinner at Eight," "Libeled Lady," "Wife vs. Secretary," and many others you would be correct, but consider the film Public Enemy, the film that launched James Cagney's legendary career. She absolutely stunk. And I mean PEE-U! The director and screenwriter must take some of the blame, but she was SO awful I would count it as one of the worst performances in mainstream Hollywood history. Now, if I'm able to say that about an actress I adore to a degree which far outstrips my admiration for Michelle Pfeiffer, why would my appreciation for Pfeiffer prevent me from being able to quantify her performance? And with that, I rest my case.

Yes, believe it or not, my original response was considerably longer.

Cheers! And DO say hello to your Mom and Dad.

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on June 24, 2010:

Hypnodude, thanks for stopping by. I liked Michelle Pfeiffer but apparently offended my old friend Tom Muther by suggesting she was miscast in the role.

I still smile when remembering Julie Newmar as Catwoman suggesting she and Batman marry. "What about Robin?" Batman asked. Catwoman thought about it a moment, shrugged her shoulders and replied, "We'll kill him!"

Thanks again for stopping by, I always appreciate it.

Mike

Andrew from Italy on June 23, 2010:

OMG, killing Robin to get him out of the house, lol, this made my laugh almost until my belly split. :)

Anyway for me the best Catwoman was Michelle Pfeiffer but I must admit I have a soft spot for her, and while Halle Berry is very beautiful her film was actually bad.

Great article Mike, detailed and well done, rated up, beautiful, stumbled and shared with my followers.

Well done my friend. :)

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on June 21, 2010:

Rod, thanks for your comments. I would refer you to Tom Muther's comments above for an impassioned defense of Michelle Pfeiffer's portrayal of Catwoman. As for Halle Berry, I think she did what she could with the material she was given, but it was pretty weak. The costumes? I knew there were several and I don't remember them all, but the ones I recall were memorable mostly for their display of cleavage. I don't think Halle did a bad job.

Thanks again for your comments, I appreciate them a great deal.

Mike

Rod Marsden from Wollongong, NSW, Australia on June 21, 2010:

Not bad. Julie was always the definitive television Catwoman for me. As for the movies, I thought Michelle was wonderful and have been disappointed she was the Catwoman only the once. As for Hale Berry, my opinion of her romp as Catwoman may differ from your own. There wasn't one costume for her but a half dozen. The costumes got better as the movie progressed. The script could have done with tightening but it isn't as bad as some make it out to be.

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on June 18, 2010:

Hi, Susan! Thanks for stopping by. I agree that Julie Newmar was by far the best Catwoman. As you can see by the comments left by my buddy Tom, however, some will disagree. Julie Newmar was still the best in my book.

BTW--I really like your avatar. The baby is so adorable. Thanks again.

Mike

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on June 18, 2010:

Habee, thanks for reading. Julie Newmar was my favorite Catwoman, also. Thanks again, I always appreciate your stopping by.

Mike

susanlang on June 18, 2010:

Mike: I'm not going to keep this short and sweet as I see by the other writers it has been covered well.

As I said to you on your Twitter webpage, Julie Newmar wins hands down in my book. Another wonderful hub with great photos and lots of details. Loved it Mike.

Holle Abee from Georgia on June 17, 2010:

Julie was awesome! Fun hub!

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on June 17, 2010:

Cupid, thanks for reading and for your kind words. I'm very glad you enjoy reading this type of hub. I have always liked looking back at older movies and television shows. Thanks again for your gracious comments.

Mike

cupid51 from INDIA on June 17, 2010:

I enjoyed very much reading this fantastic hub on famous characters from movie and television shows. Personally I also like to write this type of review hub! Your presentation as well as the pictures are fabulous!

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on June 17, 2010:

Thanks, Maita. I appreciate your stopping by and reading. Catwoman is actually a very popular Halloween costume, so I know she has many fans.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Mike

prettydarkhorse from US on June 17, 2010:

I have learned a lot from this and you covered it all from the start of "Catwoman" the woman cat, Thanks Mike, awesome of course, Maita

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on June 17, 2010:

Hey, Tom. Bob Kane? He was a great comic book artist for his era. His style was clean and easy to follow, and you're correct--his flaws in drafting or anatomy were consistent enough to be labeled a "style." At the time, I liked Bob Kane better than Carmine Infantino, his successor on Batman and Detective Comics. For whatever it was worth, at the time I preferred Infantino to Neal Adams when Adams started doing Batman. From an adult perspective, Adams was one of the greatest comics artists ever, and Infantino certainly made his mark as an artist, as well. Kane, not so much. But for a kid looking for clear, easy to follow pictures, Bob Kane was perfect and he was always one of my favorites.

Take care.

Mike

Mike Lickteig (author) from Lawrence KS USA on June 17, 2010:

Good grief, Tom, I must have really struck a nerve by asserting Michelle Pfeiffer was miscast as Catwoman. I still think she was, regardless of your opinion of her. Had it been Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy you were defending, I would suspect she doused you with some of that powder that made Batman and Robin fall in love with her…

I would touch upon a few points you made here before signing off for the night. First of all, in a comment totally unrelated to Catwoman, I agree completely with your assessment of George Clooney as Batman. I thought he looked like Bruce Wayne should look, but he never seemed to take himself or his role seriously, evinced by the smirk he carried throughout the picture. (He even had a grin on his face when telling Dick that Alfred was dying!) Had he played the role at a different point in his career, he might have been perfect. Chris O’Donnell—I agree with you there, also. Perhaps Robin doesn’t translate to the big screen well. I did like Arnold in a way (“Tonight’s forecast—there’s a freeeeeze coming!”), but concede that one-liners aren’t always enough. I enjoyed the Batman movies and I certainly like the newest incarnation, although I struggle with the “Clint Eastwood-voice-like-gravel” style of speaking Batman is forced to utter. I would be okay with it if Batman talked like a normal guy. Other than that, the newest version of Batman is amazing, and I would agree completely with your assessment. And, no—when I mentioned a preference for the television series, I didn’t mean to compare it with the latest Batman offerings.

Anyway…. Would I feel menaced by any of the women who played Catwoman? Perhaps not, but if I’m comparing Newmar to Pfeiffer, I would certainly be more wary of Julie Newmar. She was about four inches taller than Pfeiffer and appeared stronger and more athletic; if I had to fight one of them, I would probably take my chances with Michelle Pfeiffer. I know that isn’t exactly what you meant, but I found Michelle Pfeiffer to be about as imposing as Alicia Silverstone was as Batgirl. For whatever its worth, Halle Berry and Eartha Kitt could probably whip Pfeiffer in a fair fight, as well. Lee Meriwether? Nah, I’ll give that one to you. Meriwether was to Julie Newmar what Roger Moore was to Sean Connery as James Bond.

I would suggest, however, that you are not entirely incorrect in suggesting that my appreciation for both Julie Newmar and the Batman television show could be influenced by the times. I was eight when the show premiered, and perhaps Julie Newmar did seem menacing to me then. I didn’t really catch the camp nature of the show until it took over the series entirely, crowding out most of