Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV URBAN LEGEND: Julie Newmar, Catwoman on the Batman TV series, received a federal patent on a special type of pantyhouse that accentuates a woman’s ass.
One of the unique qualities of a TV show becoming a sensation is that the actors associated with the show become cultural icons in their own right. This was certainly the case for Julie Newmar, the dancer, model and actress who portrayed Catwoman on the 1966 Batman TV series. Her form-fitting costume accentuated her hourglass figure in all the right places for straight young men watching the program at the time (and those who have watched it in re-runs ever since). Newmar even specifically had her Catwoman costume slightly altered to accentuate her curves. She recently noted that she had the belt on her costume lowered from her waist to her hips to draw attention to her curvy hips.
Newmar has always had a fiery, one might almost call it “cheeky” disposition (her attitude has led to a famous legend about a cutting remark she made about The Wild, Wild West’s Michael Dunn, which I featured as a TV legend awhile back), but surprisingly, her cheeky disposition went beyond mere attitude and entered into the world of inventions in literal fashion when she patented a special type of pantyhouse designed to accentuate a woman’s ass! Read on for more details…
As you may or may not know, one of the key benefits of tight pantyhose made out of resilient, stretchable fabrics (mostly some form of nylon) is that the woman’s lower abdomen is flattened by the fabric. This gives women a slimming effect. The product Spanx (basically footless pantyhose) is sold specifically on its ability to, in effect, “shape” a woman’s body (hence the term the company uses for its product, “shapeware”). A problem, though, is the fact that if the fabric flattens a woman’s stomach, it is also going to have the same effect on the woman’s derriere. Julie Newmar, certainly someone who knew a thing or two about accentuating certain female body parts…
decided that this was something that needed to be addressed, so in 1975 (and again in 1977, presumably on a slightly different variation on the original patent) Newmar received a United States patent on what she termed “Pantyhose with shaping band for cheeky derriere relief.”
In the explanation for the invention, Newmar notes:
The present invention provides pantyhose of a resilient stretchable fabric which enhance natural shape of a wearer’s derriere giving it cheeky relief, rather than boardlike flatness. The pantyhose include a rear panty portion which covers and confines the wearer’s buttocks. An elastic shaping band is attached to the rear panty portion and is connected from the vicinity of the wearer’s crotch zone rearward to the vicinity of a waist band of the pantyhose. The elastic shaping band fits between the wearer’s buttocks to produce the desired cheeky relief thereof.
You have to love the term “desired cheeky relief.” I wonder how long it took Newmar to come up with that particular phrase? I suppose she couldn’t use the cheeky terms she used to describe the product to People magazine at the time, namely “They make your derriere look like an apple instead of a ham sandwich” or “it gives a woman the firm fanny of a 12-year-old.”
Newmar also received a U.S. patent in 1976 for a type of brassiere with hidden straps to give off the appearance of near-invisibility for the brassiere.
Newmar planned to sell her products as “Nudemar.” I don’t know how well she did, sales-wise. I’ve never heard of the products, so I am guessing not too well, but just the fact that she managed to come up with these products is very impressive.
The legend is…
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com.