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Julie Newmar's Favorite Role May Be Lost to History

The actress dishes on this fascinating career mystery, her guest role on TOS's "Friday's Child," and more.

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In The Original Series episode "Friday's Child," fans will recall that Julie Newmar guest-starred as the tough, pregnant, ready-to-die, McCoy-slapping character Eleen. All these years later, Newmar remains a popular figure amongst Star Trek fans and a frequent convention guest. At a recent Star Trek convention, sat down with the 77-year-old Newmar for an exclusive interview in which she talked about “Friday’s Child,” other career highlights — including her stint as Catwoman on Batman — and her current endeavors. The affection Star Trek fans have for you is palpable. How does it feel to be the object of that affection?

Julie Newmar: It’s staggering. It’s an all-day-long love-fest, really. People come up to you and tell you, in 100 different ways, what they saw, what they remember, what they appreciated and, in essence, they’re telling you that they love you. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Your episode of Star Trek aired almost 43 years ago, and it was just the one episode. Yet here you are!

JN: And people still want to know about it. I’m asked all the time why people still want to talk about it and, really, people have to tell me, because I’m truly interested. What I remember about it was being nine months pregnant and running around the hills of Vazquez Rocks [outside of Los Angeles], which is now overrun with housing developments. I just thought it was another show, but it will go on long beyond either of us, beyond any of us.

When is the last time you actually saw the episode?

JN: Someone sent me a copy of it and I was amazed. I was very amazed with Bill Shatner’s performance. He is the superstar he deserves to be. And, oddly enough, I was very surprised at my own performance. I liked it. It’s not that I don’t usually like my performances; it’s that you want to grow with everything that you do. So you’re always assimilating new ways of doing what you do. That’s critical. It’s definitely critical. That performance was so early in my career and I was definitely still learning, but I was pleased to see that I was as good as I was. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before! [laughs].

Would you agree that the episode holds up nicely, despite the foam rocks, those crazy costumes, and the primitive effects?

JN: Oh, I know. Oh, gosh. But it’s always the story, isn’t it? It’s the involvement that people have in the story, in the characters, whether they love or hate the characters. And that’s there. I sure gave him a soulful slap, the doctor [DeForest Kelley], that is.

When you attend conventions, it’s probably Star Trek, Batman, and The Twilight Zone that people most often want to talk with you about. But when you walk down the street and people recognize you, is it those same things they want to talk about with you? Or other work as well?

JN: I have to be honest and say that it’s always Batman or, really, I should say it’s always Catwoman. And I have to do the purring and remember the lines. It’s fine with me. I loved that role, and being asked about it just gives me a chance to love a new person.

You did one episode of Star Trek and a handful of Batman episodes, but what are some of your other 100-plus TV, film and stage credits that you’re personally proudest of?

JN: I loved an episode of The Monkees that I did. I played a character named April [The Laundress] in “The Monkees Get Out the Dirt.” You mentioned The Twilight Zone, and I played the Devil in an episode [“Of Late I Think of Cliffordville”]. Those were guest appearances. I also did a series that I was very fond of called My Living Doll [which ran on CBS from 1964-1965]. I played a character named Rhoda the Robot. The show was in black and white and it was just before Batman and Star Trek. It was a tour de force for me, and probably the most important work that I’ve done. I still can’t find all of the shows. We did 26, I think it was, and we’ve found about 12 of them. I’d love to see the rest of those shows, and I know they’re in someone’s garage somewhere. That was a wonderful, wonderful show and it was probably my best work.

And jumping from the past to the present, what are you up to these days?

JN: I’m very busy, which is nice. I do a few conventions and I really like writing at this stage, because I work for myself and that’s a real treat. It is. Once you’re over 50, if you can, you should work for yourself. It works out better that way. I have my website and I update that all the time. And I’m writing four books, actually. I’ve been going from one to another, and now I’m just finishing the first one. I am so pleased with it. It’s actually a continuation of the first book I ever wrote, but with the inclusion of my favorite photographs of all time. It’s a how-to book. It’s about how to make your life so sweet, so wonderful, so successful. That’s what it is. And it’s the very last how-to book you’ll ever need. You won’t need another one after this. The title is The Conscious Catwoman Explains Life on Earth, which is a little tongue-in-cheek. The book is serious but fun, I’d say, and there are lots of delicious pictures. I’m going to self-publish because I want it exactly the way I want it, and you’ll be able to buy it on Amazon early next year.

This interview, which originally ran in 2010, has been edited and condensed.