You may have seen this around over the past couple of weeks:
It turns out this was yet another occasion on which Nancy and I found out that we were of the same mind. (This happens often enough that it's somewhat commonplace to us, spooky to other people, and downright confusing to others who have trouble keeping track of which of us is which.) We are in agreement that the very best Catwoman was Eartha Kitt, followed by Julie Newmar.
You have to love her. . . Eartha Kitt had the most delicious purr of all the Catwoman actresses. And that distinctive voice was so unique. I honestly thought that she had died, and then, while watching tv with my kids, I heard that voice in the role of Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove and I was overjoyed that Eartha Kitt was alive and well and working. I love the fact that she entertained my kids and me. Sadly, she died in 2008, but she lives on in her many projects, musical and theatrical.
While I was searching for more information about Eartha Kitt in preparation for writing this post, I found two things out about her that merit mention: she was multiracial and she supported gay marriage. She was a woman ahead of her time.
And here's a little Julie Newmar:
She wasn't as deliciously evil as Eartha Kitt's Catwoman, but she was a worthy adversary for Batman. And it seems that most men hold her up as the archetype for all Catwomen. I can understand that, and I have to get on any bus that is heading to a world where the hourglass figure is revered.
I remember watching Batman on tv in syndication, every day after school when I was a kid. It was a campy show, yes, but it was also empowering. Catwoman, in her many forms, was most definitely a woman, curves and all. She led a team of male minions and was just as worthy a nemesis as Batman's many male adversaries. I think I found Catwoman as inspiring as many people found the diverse cast of the original Star Trek when it first aired. I didn't have any plans to grow up to be a villainess in Gotham City, but an unapologetic, strong, curvy woman was certainly a viable option.
So I had to wait a few decades for the naturally curvy woman with normal (read: not big) hair to come back into vogue again. It was worth the wait. And it's a pretty good place to be in now, where women aren't as narrowly constricted as to how they should look and behave. We still have a long way to go, but we've come a long way already.