1960s Sex Symbols: Catwoman Is Purrrfect

Julie Newmar’s sex appeal as Catwoman on the 1960s television show Batman stemmed not only from a statuesque figure, a skin-tight outfit, and a beautiful visage.  Newmar’s self-assuredness was a powerful force, too.

In The Twilight Zone episode Of Late I Think of Cliffordville, Newmar played Miss Devlin with similar self-assuredness.  Based on the short story Blind Alley by Malcolm Jameson, the episode first aired on CBS on April 11, 1963.

It centers on William Feathersmith, a businessman played by Albert Salmi.  Feathersmith’s success is not enough to satisfy him.  He wants to go back in time and relive it.  Miss Devlin recognizes the problem, “The pleasure’s not in the possession, it’s in the desperate struggle to possess.”

Miss Devlin is the proprietor of Devlin’s Travel Service located on the 13th floor of Feathersmith’s building.  She arranges a deal to send Feathersmith to the past with the destination of his hometown, Cliffordville.  Feathersmith’s conditions:  1)  He must look the same as he did in 1910.  2)  He must possess an intact memory of all events, people, and places.  3)  Cliffordville must be exactly as it was in 1910.  4)  The time-travel trip must take place immediately.

What does Miss Devlin get in the deal?  Feathersmith offers his soul, to no avail.  “We got a hold of your soul some time ago, I believe,” explains Miss Devlin.  She then proceeds to list Feathersmith’s numerous indiscretions, unfair actions, and wrongdoing.

Feathersmith has money, though.  And lots of it.  Miss Devlin figures Feathersmith’s net worth to be $36,891,412.14.  She charges him $36, 890,000 for the trip, leaving $1,400 and change — not an untidy sum at the turn of the century.

By the story’s end, Feathersmith realizes that, indeed, you can’t go home again.  His dreams of recreating success and wealth on an even larger scale than his “previous” life get punctured by his avarice.  Greed blinds him regarding the events that led to his success.  He forgets about the timing of these events and, accordingly, invests in ideas that were not ripe for profitability.

Feathersmith begs Miss Devlin for a return trip to the present.  But his behavior in this “new” past dictates a change in the time continuum.  His actions led to alterations in his life.  Severe alterations.  Feathersmith is now a janitor.

Newmar’s portrayal of Miss Devlin exuded confidence, intelligence, and power.  It’s a familiar dynamic for fans of Catwoman.  Devilish?  Sure.  Purrrfect?  Absolutely.

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