Lee Meriwether explained the awkward mechanics of smooching on Sixties TV

The former Miss America used to envy actors who locked lips onscreen… until it came time for her to pucker up.

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Just before Lee Meriwether lifted a claw as Catwoman in 1966 for Batman: The Movie, she was clawing her way up as an actor taking bit parts on TV shows like Leave It to Beaver and Perry Mason. (See the video above.) In the 1950s and early 1960s, she took whatever work came her way, and soon she noticed one network seemed to be favoring her over the other.

"I must say I do much better on ABC than on CBS," Meriwether told The Journal Herald in 1965. "I played a swindler on Hazel and I’m a red-herring murder suspect on Perry Mason."

That was the year when everything changed, though, and suddenly the lovely Meriwether was cast to play the love interest of three TV stars at the very same time: Efrem Zimbalist on The FBI, Forrest Tucker on F Troop, and Paul Burke on 12 O'Clock High.

This helped Meriwether become better known to TV audiences. After the cinematic Batman, in which she slyly became Bruce Wayne's love interest, she became a star.

So you could say locking lips onscreen led her to the spotlight.

In 1965, though, Meriwether wasn't exactly used to all this onscreen smooching, and she admitted that filming romantic scenes with TV's most charming leading men wasn’t as dreamy as she thought it would be when she was a young girl hoping to become a TV star romantically linked to top actors.

"When I was a kid, I used to envy all the actresses for the leading men they issued," Meriwether said. "But by the time you're through with all the technical problems and camera angles, it's anything but fun."

The reality was, well, awkward.

On F Troop, she said she didn't know if she should count her first kiss with Tucker because it came right after he pulled his head out of a horse trough.

At the time of the interview, she had yet to lock lips with Zimbalist on The FBI, but when it came time for the big moment on 12 O'Clock High, Meriwether could barely keep it together, unable to stop laughing at how ridiculous this depiction of romance was.

"I did get to kiss Paul Burke, but it was at 8 a.m. and I giggled through almost all the takes," Meriwether explained. "How can you kiss a man at that hour in front of 50 other men?"

Apparently, the shooting schedule never improved, and neither did the romantic chemistry for Meriwether.

"I got to kiss Gary Lockwood on the same show, and it was the same problem," Meriwether said.

With thick brown hair and a smile that can send sparkles shooting out the TV screen, Meriwether had a beauty that helped her win pageants and ultimately become a star, but she said for her, acting was never glamorous, simply a job.

"Acting for me has mostly been a way of making a living, of paying the bills while I've raised two daughters," she told The St. Louis Dispatch-Post in 1980.

Humble, Meriwether attributed her onscreen beauty to the makeup artists and stylists, and she also revealed who she thought was the most stunning actor.

"Oh, I know I look good in makeup, and if my hair is just right," Meriwether said. "I know I can look all right… but I’'d give anything to look like Bo Derek."

Meriwether said she didn't often get recognized when she was out, but that later in her life, her fans who did approach her were always polite. That was drastically different from the early encounters she had with unimpressed kids who came out to taunt her after she was crowned Miss America.

"Even when I was touring around as Miss America, kids would yell, 'My sister is prettier than you!'" Meriwether joked.

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MargieO13 30 days ago
In a Christmas Story I wanted the part of the mother but got the part of the Teacher and I was so glad because the mom kissed the Dad and it would have been hard for me lol. I loved playing the teacher because I made everyone laugh.
AgingDisgracefully 6 months ago
Cigar Breath vs. A Future in Show Business?
YOU make the call!
RadioMattM 6 months ago
There was a WWII movie where one of the characters was a movie star who became a fighter pilot on an aircraft carrier. Someone asked him what it was like to kiss all of the beautiful actresses on the screen. He pretty much described the same thing as Ms. Meriwether did.
TheDavBow3 6 months ago
She was absolutely stunning on a Mannix episode. She played a not-so-nice nanny. '69, '70, '71 somewhere in there. Had longer hair than what I'm used to seeing her. Waiting for Joe in his hotel room on his bed. Quite something!
Deb 6 months ago
I met Lee Meriweather about 8 or 9 years ago and let me tell you, she's absolutely stunning. And despite being so beautiful, she's very down to earth.
F5Twitster 6 months ago
"I must say I do much better on ABC than on CBS," Meriwether told The Journal Herald in 1965. 'I played a swindler on Hazel and I’m a red-herring murder suspect on Perry Mason.'"

"Hazel" ran on NBC, not ABC.

As for

"When I was a kid, I used to envy all the actresses for the leading men they issued,' Meriwether said."

Online articles are typically full of errors, and I can almost always find the word the writer meant to say, but substituted with an inappropriate word. In the above sentence I have absolutely no idea what the writer was trying to say, or thought he was saying when he wrote "issued." It makes absolutely no sense, unless it's supposed to be "kissed."
Mike F5Twitster 6 months ago
What Lee's referring to is playing villains.
The swindler on Hazel and the suspect on Mason were bad guys (OK, bad gals), whereas her ABC parts tended to be nice ladies.

Of course, later on there was her long run on Barnaby Jones (CBS) as a good gal, and her eventual soap tenure on All My Children (ABC), but those are "another story" ...
Wiseguy Mike 5 months ago
And her recurring role of Tracey on the 4th season of Mission: Impossible.
Dario 6 months ago
BTW, MeTV, it's "St. Louis Post-Dispatch," not "St. Louis Dispatch-Post." 🙄😒
Dario 6 months ago
I most certainly wouldn't mind getting a kiss from this lady, especially at the age she is now. 💋💋💋💋💋 😉😉😉😉😉 😁😁😁😁😁
goofygrandma 6 months ago
She has it all. Beauty, class, talent and more.
HulkFan02 6 months ago
Honestly, she's even classy as Catwoman.
StrayCat HulkFan02 5 months ago
True, but i still gotta go with Julie Newmar as the defining Catwoman.
GoUTVols1961 StrayCat 5 months ago
Julie Newmar was my first love!
BrittReid 6 months ago
Beautiful and classy all the way.
srrainwater 6 months ago
Beautiful woman and love her in Batman and The Time Tunnel
HulkFan02 srrainwater 6 months ago
Yea, i mean she's such a great catwoman
Mirramanee 6 months ago
I have always found Lee Meriweather to be an elegant and classic beauty who also had a real sense of class and style in all her roles over the years. I do wish the writers had more fully developed her romance with Bruce Wayne in the 1966 Batman movie, though. They made a lovely on-screen couple.
cperrynaples Mirramanee 6 months ago
Yes, she didn't have any problems kissing Adam West! But then again, we all know what kind of girl Catwoman was...LOL!
Yes, Catwoman was the one who caused Batman to have "strange stirrings/sensations," in his utility belt!
No, that was Robin...LOL again!
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