As time winds down on our opinion poll about the best Sherlock Holmes, and Basil Rathbone holds a lead over Jeremy Brett that is shrinking somewhat, let us begin a new question.
Who is the quintessential Catwoman?
One advantage that the Catwoman poll will have over the Sherlock Holmes poll is that I did not have to arbitrarily reduce the field. There are five, count them five, actresses who have played Catwoman in live action shows on TV or in the movies. If we list them in reverse alphabetical order, we begin with Michelle Pfeiffer.
For my money, she was the best thing in all of the Tim Burton directed Batman films, showing up in the second movie, Batman Returns.
This is not all that high of praise, because I'm not crazy about the Tim Burton Batman movies.
Still, she looked good in the costume.
In most polls, I try at first to be impartial.
Seriously, I'm not impartial.
When I close my eyes and think of Catwoman, and listen for her voice explaining her latest wicked plan, in my mind when I hear her say "Purrrrrrrrr-fect", it is Julie Newmar's voice I hear. If I were to open my eyes and see all seventy two scrumptious inches of Julie Newmar poured into that Catwoman oufit, well, this is the start of a dream come true.
Newmar played the role most often, being Catwoman in the first two seasons of the TV show. To my mind, when Elvis Costello wrote the line
She's a feline tormentor,
Not any vaudeville wife...
He was writing about Julie Newmar. (In fact, he was probably writing about his wife at the time, Cait O'Riordan.)
Lee Meriwether played Catwoman in the feature film made from the Batman TV show that made it into theaters between the airing of the first and second season. This is not the only time the producers of Batman had one actor play a role, then another actor stepped in, then the original came back. There is an episode where John Astin plays the Riddler because Frank Gorshin was unavailable due to his touring schedule with his nightclub act. Gorshin returned the next time they had a Riddler episode. (In my never humble opinion, Gorshin is still the quintessential Riddler.)
Lee Meriwether was a Miss America, one of the most successful in the history of the pageant. She was a regular on Barnaby Jones. She's 74 years old now, and she still looks good.
Is she my favorite Catwoman? Aw, hellz no, as we say in Oakland.
Eartha Kitt played Catwoman in the third season. If any human being ever had a voice that sounded more like a purring cat, I have never heard them.
Yvonne Craig sheds some light on this casting change. Ms. Craig was signed on to play Batgirl in the third season, and it only made sense that if there was a villainess, Batgirl would be in charge of kicking some evil female hiney.
This presented a problem. Ms. Craig, like Julie Newmar, was a dancer before she was an actress and could handle some convincing fight choreography. The problem was that Ms. Craig is tiny while Ms. Newmar is stupendous. It might be difficult to make the choreography of Batgirl beating up Catwoman convincing when Yvonne barely came up to Julie's navel.
Enter the smaller but still dangerously feline Ms. Kitt.
If you like a Catwoman outfit to show some cleavage and maybe a hot little belly button, Halle Berry should get your vote.
If you vote based on who is the hottest chick of all at this moment in 2009, Berry has a serious advantage on her older counterparts.
But if this is a poll about the quintessential Catwoman, let me bring up two counterarguments.
Ms. Berry has promised, PROMISED, in interviews that she will not be in Catwoman 2 for any amount of money.
The website Rotten Tomatoes gave Catwoman a rating of 10%, which means 1 in 10 reviews were favorable, while 9 in 10 were not.
To give you an idea of just how bad that is, Mike Myers colossal comedy bomb The Love Guru got a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 14%.
Worse than The Love Guru. The mind reels.
The new poll will be open until midnight next Tuesday. You can cast your vote for more than one Catwoman. My vote will be the first one cast, and careful readers can tell who I'm going to pick.