‘Catwoman’ has been a part of Detective Comics since the beginning, first appearing in 1940. Comic book authors Bill Finger and Bob Krane created the character. Selina Kyla, or ‘Catwoman,’ was based on Hedy Lamarr and Jean Harlow, two famous Hollywood actresses at the time. She is portrayed as a supervillain, anti-hero and Batman’s love interest. Originally known just as ‘The Cat,’ she was commonly depicted as a burglar in the comics, with Batman seeking to persuade her to stop thieving. In the comics, ‘Holly Robinson’ and ‘Eiko Hasigawa’ are other characters who have taken on the moniker of Catwoman.
Zoë Kravitz is the most recent Hollywood celebrity to take on the role of Catwoman in Matt Reeves’s ‘The Batman.’ In an interview with talk show host, Jimmy Fallon she stated she spent time with cats in preparation for the role. She also voiced the character in ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ released in 2017.
In the list below, we’ve included a number of actresses who have previously played Catwoman, not including the voices behind ‘SelinaKyle / Catwoman’ in the animated films.
Julie Newmar: Batman – TV Series (1966)
Golden Globe nominee for ‘My Living Doll,’ American actress Julie Newmar was the first to portray ‘Catwoman’ on screen. She was one of the few females who dominated the screen in the 1960s with her interpretation of the character. Her hallmark line, shouted while scheming with her henchmen and dressed in complete black and high heels, was “Purrrrfect.” She had a love-hate relationship with Batman, and trapped him and Robin in many of her evil schemes.
The Batman series, which premiered in the 1960s, featured Batman and Robin on their exploits against Gotham City’s supervillains. The show was created by William Dozier, who also worked on ‘The Green Hornet’ TV series.
Julie Newmar has since then gone to star in the western classic ‘Mackenna’s Gold’, and has voiced ‘Catwoman’ in 2016’s Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (voiced by returning Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin), and its sequel 2017’s Batman vs. Two-Face.
Lee Meriwether: Batman (1966)
Due to scheduling conflicts with Julie Newmar, the role of Catwoman fell to American actress Lee Meriwether in the movie adaption of the TV series. This was Catwoman’s first appearance in a motion picture. In the movie, she plays a Russian reporter for the Moscow Bugle, ‘Kitayna Ireyna Tatanya Kerenska Alisoff’ or ‘Miss Kitka’. She becomes the love interest of Batman, unknown to him, she’s the villainous Catwoman.
With a successful stint on television, William Dozier produced ‘Batman’ in 1966 based on Batman and Robin overcoming a team of Gotham City’s most notorious villains. The film features majority of the original TV cast, with actors reprising their roles as Batman, Robin, the Joker, the Penguin, and the Riddler. Lee Meriwether is a two Golden Globe Award nominee and received an Emmy Award nomination in 1977 for her supporting role in the Drama Series ‘Barnaby Jones’. She returned to the Batman TV series in 1967 making an appearance as the love interest of Bruce Wayne as ‘Lisa Carson’.
Eartha Kitt: Batman – TV Series (1968)
Eartha Kitt was the first Black woman to portray the iconic villain ‘Catwoman’ on screen. She was already an Emmy award nominee for ‘I Spy‘ when she took on role. Her appearance as the feline supervillain drew both criticism and praise as it was one of the first times a Black woman was cast in a recurring role on television. Her ‘Catwoman’ was less of a ‘Batman’ love interest and more of a criminal mastermind.
In her career, she was an actress, singer, and activist who founded the Kittsville Youth Foundation. She is also very well known for her performance of the hit song ‘Santa baby’. Eartha Kitt was nominated for three Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and two Emmy Awards. She was recognized with a star on “The Hollywood Walk of Fame” in 1960.
Michelle Pfeiffer: Batman Returns (1992)
It was not until 1992 that we saw another live-action version of ‘Catwoman’ in ‘Batman Returns’, directed by Tim Burton. Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening (‘American Beauty’) was originally cast in the role. However, it went Michelle Pfeiffer after Bening dropped out from the project. Her character, ‘Selina Kyle,’ takes up the persona of ‘Catwoman,’ after she escapes a catastrophic fall when she is pushed out of a window by her boss. Following the fall, she is resurrected by a swarm of alley cats that surround her. Her arc goes from being a silent secretary to a vengeance-seeking vigilante. The movie is a sequel to 1989’s ‘Batman‘ starring Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Michael Gough as his butler ‘Alfred Pennyworth’.
Michelle Pfeiffer won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 1998 for her role in the film ‘Dangerous Liaisons’. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Annette Bening portrayed ‘Mar-Vell’ and ‘The Supreme Intelligence’ in ‘Captain Marvel‘ while Michael Keaton played the role of Adrian Toomes/Vulture in ‘SpiderMan Homecoming’. Keaton is set to reprise his role as Batman in the upcoming ‘The Flash’ (2022) and with Pfeiffer’s Catwoman surviving at the end of Batman Returns, maybe she will dawn the avatar once more.
Halle Berry: Catwoman (2004)
Hollywood actress and Oscar winner Halle Berry did make her mark on another comic book character of ‘Catwoman’. Although scoring 9% on the Tomatometer with an 18% audience score, the movie is one of the modern superhero movies with a woman in the leading roles. The movie is loosely based on the DC character with Halle Berry starings as ‘Patience Phillips’, a graphic artist at the cosmetics brand Hedare Beauty. She discovers that the company’s newest product is defective and is promptly discarded. Goddess Bast resurrects her after she is discovered by stray cats. She’s out for vengeance now that she’s gained new abilities.
In an interview with writer and editor Scott Huver, the former Bond Girl mentions she slashed her face and hurt a couple of people when she started training with the whip. Halle Berry has also played the superhero ‘Ororo Munroe/Storm’ in the X Men franchise. The movie shares a small connection with Michelle Pfeiffer’s ‘Catwoman’ when her photograph is seen in the movie.
Eartha Kitt, Halle Berry and now Zoë Kravitz are three black women who have played catwomen onscreen.
Anne Hathaway: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Directed by Christopher Nolan at the conclusion of his Batman trilogy is Anne Hathaway’s ‘Selina Kyle/Catwoman’. A jewel thief labeled as ‘the cat’ in the city’s newspapers, she makes her appearance stealing a pearl necklace from the Wayne manor. She steals only from those who can afford it and works toward getting her name wiped off from any record criminal activity. A love interest for Christian Bale’s ‘Bruce Wayne’, she saves ‘Batman’ from another crushing defeat at the hands of ‘Bane’.
The award winning actress will next be seen portraying Rebekah Neumann in the upcoming drama series ‘WeCrashed‘ alongside Jared Leto, who portrayed the ‘Joker’ in 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad’. She is known for her roles in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, ‘Les Misérables’ another Christopher Nolan project ‘Interstellar’.
Camren Bicondova: Gotham – TV Series (2014)
Actress and dancer Camren Bicondova plays a young ‘Selina Kyle’ in this batman prequel series. The series is set in a Gotham city rampant with crime on the rise. She is a street smart thief who befriends a young ‘Bruce Wayne’. Selina makes her way in and out of Wayne Manor revealing the contracting lifestyles she and ‘Bruce’ live. Also in the series are her interactions with other Batman characters such as Tabitha Galavan/Tigress, and Ivy “Pamela” Pepper/Poison Ivy. In the season finale, an adult ‘Selina Kyle’ is played by actress Lili Simmons.
Bruno Heller developed the series and it stars Ben McKenzie (‘The O.C’), Donal Logue (‘Sons of Anarchy’), Jada Pinkett Smith (Gloria from ‘Madagascar’ Films), and Sean Pertwee (‘Elementary’).
Camren Bicondova received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Performance by a Younger Actor in a Television Series. She has portrayed the character more times than any other actress at the time of writing. She appears in the music video for the track Enjoy the Ride by electronic dance group Krewella.
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