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Why Jim Belushi Sued Original Catwoman, Julie Newmar

When she wasn’t portraying the first incarnation of Catwoman, Julie Newmar has led a prolific life as a dancer, singer, model, fashion designer, and real estate mogul. She is a veritable Jane-of-all-trades and arguably a living legend of the entertainment industry.

Before dawning those notorious cat ears in 1966, Julie had already made quite a name for herself. She is a Tony Award-winning stage actor for her role as Katrin Sveg in the Broadway production of The Marriage-Go-Round in 1958 and would transfer that same persona to the silver screen in the 1961 film adaptation. In that same year, she would play Lola in Damn Yankees and 4 years later in 65, she would play Irma in Irma La Douce in 1965. The stage has always been good to Julie Newmar and she inversely has always given the audiences the powerful performances they didn’t even know they were looking for.

Julie Newmar has lived quite an illustrious life and has never retired. Even today, in her late 80’s she is still kicking, mainly working as a voice-over actress for animated features and audio dramas. Her commitment to her work has always been impressive, but despite her best intentions she has still managed to stir up some scandals.

Facts Verse Presents: Why Jim Belushi Sued Original Catwoman Julie Newmar

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Before we delve into why the SNL veteran lawyered up against Newmar, let’s take a look at her life and some little known facts that you never knew about Julie.

Her real name is Julie Newmeyer and Her Parents Had it going on

Although the world knows her as Ms. Newmar, she was born on August 16, 1933, as Julia Chalene Newmeyer. She is the eldest child of three, born to Helen and Don Newmeyer. Her father was a professional football player for the Los Angeles Buccaneers – a team that only was active briefly from 1926 to 1927 – and her mother was a fashion designer and a performer for the Ziegfeld Follies. After leaving that Broadway theater troupe, her mom would go on to find success in real estate. With parental credentials like that, it’s no surprise Julie is for greatness. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, and this apple was dipped in gold.

In the early days of her film career, she would go by her full given name. After finding a boost in popularity after 1954s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, she would shorten her name to Julie Newmar. The former name had too many syllables and wasn’t very memorable. The practice of shortening one’s name once entering into show business is pretty common though.

The name change only proved to be exactly what her professional life needed because soon after the tweak her career would explode.

In 1953 she would do little more than gold paint and plastic tape for Serpent in the Nile

Years prior to Goldfinger, Julie Newmar (still Newmayer at the time) would wear nothing but a skimpy bikini and gold paint in the Raymond Burr film about Mark Antony. She showed off her dance moves with all sorts of bends, twists, and such and that created a pretty sizable issue for the production team.

At the time, belly buttons were still considered somewhat taboo for a film. So in order to keep the vestige under wraps while she was slinking about they had to get creative. A little bit of scotch tape would be the solution that they eventually would settle on.

Julie Played The Devil Flawlessly

In the fourth season of The Twilight Zone in the episode Of Late, I Think of Cliffordville Newmar plays none other than Satan the Devil. The episode dealt with a rich corporate business tycoon who makes an unwise deal with the Devil in exchange for the opportunity to go back in time to the year 1910 with all the knowledge that he had already accumulated. He figures that he will be able to accumulate a vastly greater stockpile of wealth knowing just what to invest in. Without giving up too much of the plot, he finds that his greed backfires on him and sabotages his plans. He soon finds himself destitute and penniless as Julie Newmar as the devil has the last laugh.

Her First Sitcom’s Mastertapes Where Lost in an Earthquake

Newmar would have several guest star roles on shows like Route 66 and The Twilight Zone episode we just mentioned before she would land a recurring role in the science fiction comedy My Living Doll where she played a voluptuous robot lady.

Unfortunately, though, all of the 35mm film negatives were damaged beyond usability in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. There would however be a DVD collection released in 2012 that would piece together 11 out of the 26 episodes of the series from 16mm copies from film collectors. If you’re a fan of the show and want to watch the other 15 episodes, you might be waiting a while for more film to come out of hiding.

Bob Crane Nearly Co-Starred With Her on My Living Doll

Julie was exquisitely enticing as the robot woman Rhoda Miller on My Living Doll. A big reason that the show never saw a second season though had to do with the lack of chemistry between her and her on-screen love interest Bob Cummings. Cummings who played a psychiatrist that was nearly 2 decades her senior didn’t mesh well with the youthful and vibrant Newmar.

Bob Crane, best known for his role as Colonel Hogan in Hogan’s Heroes was offered the role but turned it down to work on his show. It would have been an entirely different show if he had accepted the part and likely would have garnered a more sizable following than it did. Alas, My Living Doll was canceled after it’s first and final season.

Julie Missed Her Chance to be on the Batman Movie

Instead of reprising her television Catwoman role for the 1966 Batman movie, she decided that it was in her best interest to instead pursue her burgeoning film career. Trouble soon ensued, however. When she went to the United Kingdom to film the scandalous film Monsieur Lecoq, the project was promptly scrapped and never finished.

Interestingly, it would have included Julie’s first nude scene. Production photography shows her baring it all in a steamy bubble bath scene. It’s hard to say what the final film would have shown but some of these racy photos would find their way to Playboy magazine in 1969.

Three years later Newmar would do her first official nude scene in the film Mackenna’s Gold.

Newmar could have returned as Catwoman if it weren’t for Mackenna’s Gold

Julie really had some cruddy luck with scheduling in those years. She could have returned to Batman to be the perfect Catwoman for subsequent seasons if it weren’t for her choosing to accept the part of the apache woman in McKenna’s Gold.

George Lucas – who was doing a student film project on the production of the film- even backs up that claim by suggesting that Newmar had been the desired Catwoman but when scheduling conflicts and contractual obligations got in the way, Batman producers would have to replace her with Eartha Kitt.

On The Monkee’s She Lived in the House From Bewitched

Newmar certainly wasn’t shy when it came to making cameo appearances on popular TV shows in the 60s and 70s. When she graced the set of The Monkees and stole the hearts of the four young lads, she played the part of a laundry mat employee named April Conquest. When the Monkee boys visit her home we catch a brief glimpse of her house. The backdrop used was none other than the home of Samantha and Darin from Bewitched!

In addition to making a cameo on the Monkees, she would also show up on 1992s music video Too Funky by pop idol George Michael.

She would also make a special appearance on the gender-bending comedy film starring Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes,  To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar in 1995. It’s only fitting that she would show up in a film that featured her name in the title.

Jim Belushi and Julie Newmar had a Long-Standing Feud

At one point their issues would even become quite heated. You see, they had been neighbors for years and often batted heads over trivial matters for decades.

There was this fence that separated their properties and Julie wanted to alter the fence so it would let in in more sunlight for her flowers but Jim wanted to keep the fence the way it was. He wanted it tall so as to provide a heightened degree of privacy.

The divide became so dramatic that Belushi would eventually sue her for over 4 million dollars.

In 2004 Belushi and Newmar agreed to settle the issue that Jim went as far as to call “a premeditated campaign to prevent and destroy his quiet peace”.

After putting to rest this issue, Newmar would even guest-star on an episode of Belushi’s show “According to Jim”, where they would poke fun at the issue by means of reenacting the feud on-screen, this time over a dog instead of a fence.

Well, we’re glad they finally put their differences aside. Now it’s time to hear from you. Do you think that Jim was in the right by wanting a giant fence for privacy reasons or do you side with Julie who was thinking about the best interests of her beloved flower garden? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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