With the upcoming release of the last instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, one of the most talked about characters is that of Catwoman. For a very long period after the announcement of the film’s production, her appearance was more of a rumour rather than a fact. Any Batman fan knows that the portrayal of Catwoman is always something to look forward to, as she is one of the most interesting of Batman’s enemies along with the Joker, the Penguin, and, of course, Bane, who Tom Hardy will portray in Nolan’s film. Every new Catwoman promises not only a different actress, but also a new cat suit, walk, talk, and purr.
Here is a short list of the five most notable screen portrayals of Catwoman, leading up to Anne Hathaway’s appearance later this year.
5. Halle Berry – Catwoman (2005)
This is the latest portrayal of Catwoman on the silver screen. Although Halle Berry looked the part and definitely had skills with the whip, the 2005 film Catwoman, directed by Pitof, didn’t have much to do with either the figure of Catwoman or Gotham. Instead, it dealt with Egyptian mythology and toxic cosmetics. As a result, it received seven Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Actress, Worst Director and Worst Screenplay.
4. Lee Meriwether – Batman (1966, TV Series spin-off)
Meriwether never played Catwoman in the series. Instead, she appeared in the 1966 film, a spin-off from the TV series. Due to other commitments, Newmar was unable to reprise her role, leading to Meriwether’s involvement. Meriwether, once Miss America of 1955, transformed the original image of Catwoman, created by Newmar, into Kitka, a feline lady with a Russian accent.
3. Eartha Kitt – Batman (1968 TV Series)
No one ever did the purr like Eartha Kitt; once called the most exciting woman in the world by Orson Welles. Her time as Catwoman came in the final season of Batman the series, making her the third actress to embody this iconic character after Julie Newmar and Lee Meriwether. Her portrayal of Catwoman added a certain sense of strength and fierceness to the character, which somehow eluded both Newmar and Meriwether.
2. Julie Newmar – Batman (1966-1967 TV Series)
This was the first time the character of Catwoman was adapted for a medium different from graphic novels. The first actress to play Catwoman was Julie Newmar, who gained popularity with her appearance in the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 1954. Although she was not as evil as later portrayals, she played the character in season 1 and 2 of the series, creating the very first standard for the scheming lady in a cat suit, cat ears and all that jazz.
1. Michelle Pfeiffer – Batman Returns (1992)
Tim Burton’s take on Catwoman in his 1992 film Batman Returns is one of the most popular portrayals of the character on the big screen. With Michelle Pfeiffer in the role, the hint of sweet madness in the bespectacled Selina Kyle grows into the psychosis of Catwoman as she destroys her entire apartment, drinks milk out of the carton and sews her own cat suit, which we all agree, makes her ”so much yummier”.
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros