In the third season of the ABC’s live-action television show Batman, Eartha Kitt debuted as the villain Catwoman, replacing Julie Newmar as she was unavailable to reprise the role.
“We felt it was a very provocative idea,” recalled producer Charles FitzSimons about executive producer Bill Dozier’s selection of Eartha Kitt as Catwoman. “She was a cat woman before we ever cast her as Catwoman. She had a cat-like style. Her eyes were cat-like and her singing was like a meow. This came as a wonderful off-beat idea to do it with a black woman.”
When Kitt’s casting was announced, television network affiliates in the Southern states were furious. Despite the progressive casting, it was agreed between the producers that the sexual tension between Catwoman and Batman must end, and the new idea was to create a love interest between Batman and Batgirl.
Kitt said she “loved doing Catwoman” in an interview with The Austin Chronicle in 2006. When asked if she would reprise the role, Kitt answered: “Why not? But I probably would do it now as the mother of the cat. I love doing the character. I didn’t have to think about it: I didn’t try to be a cat, I am a cat!”
Take a look through these 18 vintage portraits of Eartha Kitt as Catwoman: