If TPTB had allowed Newmar to continue playing the character the same way, she easily would've been my favorite. But that is not how it played out, obviously.
As for Lee Meriwether, I thought her portrayal of Kitka was stellar. It was just the right mixture of sex appeal and hidden evil, if you will. I honestly don't think Julie could have done as well. Swedish/Nordic was more in her wheelhouse than Russian/Soviet in terms of accents and mannerisms.
As CW, I felt she was OK, but not great. I thought she relied a bit too much on hissing and showing her claws. She hasn't done a ton of villainess roles in her career, and I think it showed.
I liked Eartha's take a lot, even though it was kind of similar to her seductive style as a singer. For her, the hissing and clawing seemed to come a bit more naturally, imo. It's not her fault she was not allowed to flirt very much with Batman, obviously. It also was fun to see how much she despised Batgirl, as opposed to the henchmen who willingly offered up their faces to be kicked.
My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.
'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17
That said; every time I watch the film, I realize I still prefer Ms Meriwether. There’s just something a little more believable that she’s a relatively normal person with a criminal alter ego. Particularly when she’s interacting with the rest of the Rogues.
Ms Kitt plays her the meanest and I’m sorry we didn’t get more time with her in the role. To me, she’s her most interesting in her dislike of Batgirl.
Although the comic version has taken on other personality traits over the decades, the Newmar version remains the one most associated with the character. Her first appearance is as flawless as any villain in the series, and arguably one of the best live action interpretations of a comic character in general. She was that near-perfect in her debut.
A note about Meriwether: While I believe the movie is part of the TV "continuity" (whenever it popped up), and I really enjoyed her no-nonsense, controlling interpretation, she falls short of being my top pick because she lacked a natural seductive quality that Newmar projected. In fact, the Merriwether version only shows that side of her as part of the United Underworld plot, not because she had any personal interest in Batman.
I've my issues with SRR's writing in the series but she's the purrfect standard against which all others are weighed. Slinky, sexy, funny, evil, conflicted...!
I didn't like Lee at all, too cruel without the playful side. Eartha was just all right, passable, though she did have the perfect, a-hem, purrrfect pronunciation. Also, and it's not her fault, a short Catwoman just doesn't cut it. I think Robin was taller than her, or equal in height!
Much like nearly all the actors in the series, they somehow became the characters without any of the distance, grittiness or irony (?) of later different attempts at movies and shows. I like a lot of the Nolan movies but they were trying to do something else. The '66 show was like a pure distillation of the 50s version of the comic with the big props and such, death traps, and crazy schemes.
And while her costume was different (superior in my mind) from the comics, Julie's Catwoman was on a whole other level. Of course her dancer experience and observations of cat behavior and reproducing it to a degree helped, but most of all she just had the right attitude; even her non-lovesick version from Season 1 and maybe the best Catwoman episode the show ever did had a playful catlike energy I don't think Lee Merriweather ever came close to.
As for movies and continuity, for me it's all the same show, no need to come up with reasons why Catwoman is suddenly much shorter and black when she'd been tall, or why she's different yet again in the movie, nor why there are two riddlers etc. For me, it's the same character played by different actors, simple.
I guess I do place the reunion cartoon movies as the final episodes of the show, both because of the reunion element and they seemed closer to the first season in energy, a sense of things coming full circle. At the same time, they finally advance the Batman/Catwoman romance to a logical conclusion, her acceptance of jail time and redemption, by actually releasing Robin from her birdcage and later saving him from falling to his death in the first movie and saving Batman and Robin from Two-Face's trap.
by the end of hte movie it seems that Batman's influence has finally had an impact on her, which is good. Enough of the "falling to her death" and the move towards a happy ending for the Caped Crusader, one much deserved and one that for the most part, is put off in other adaptations. It especially works for what has become known as the Bright Knight. I'd put the movie in any order regarding the show but the Return and Two-Face as the ending.
Whew! Holy Digressions!
Back to the main point, Julie was the perfect Catwoman.
#1. Julie Newmar
#2. Lee Meriwether
#3. Eartha Kitt
I liked Julie Newmar's portrayal the best. She actually seems cat-like, to me.
I remember being disappointed when I saw the movie and Lee Meriwether had taken the role but I thought she did a better job than Eartha Kitt did when she took over.