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Lee Meriwether

Lee Meriwether

Lee Meriwether was Miss America 1955, and an American actress, appearing in movies, soap operas, game shows and television. The brunette Meriwether is known for her roles as Buddy Ebsen's daughter-in-law and crime-solving partner, Betty Jones, in the long-running 1970s crime drama Barnaby Jones, and as Catwoman in the 1966 film version of Batman.

Lee Meriwether was born to Claudius Gregg Meriwether (13 October 1904, Oregon – 15 July 1954, San Francisco, California) and Ethel Eve Mulligan (25 March 1903, Oregon – 21 May 1996, Los Angeles, California). She has one brother, Don Brett Meriwether, born 14 May 1938, in Los Angeles. She grew up in San Francisco after the family moved there from Phoenix, Arizona. She attended George Washington High School, where one of her classmates was Johnny Mathis. She later attended San Francisco City College, where one of her classmates was fellow actor Bill Bixby.

After winning Miss San Francisco, Meriwether won Miss California, then Miss America with her recital of a John Millington Synge monologue. After her reign, she joined The Today Show. An 1 August 1956 International News wire photo of Meriwether and Joe DiMaggio announced their engagement. According to DiMaggio biographer Richard Ben Cramer, it was a rumor started by Walter Winchell.

Her feature film debut came in 1959 as Linda Davis in 4D Man, starring Robert Lansing.

Meriwether portrayed Catwoman for the 1966 Batman movie and co-starred as scientist Dr. Ann MacGregor in the 1966–1967 television series The Time Tunnel. She appeared in the Star Trek episode That Which Survives. In films, she joined John Wayne and Rock Hudson for The Undefeated, and Andy Griffith in Angel in My Pocket in 1969. In the same year, she played IMF spy Tracy Fielding in six Mission: Impossible episodes, after Barbara Bain's departure.

She began her best-known role as private detective Betty Jones in the 1973–1980 series Barnaby Jones, opposite Buddy Ebsen. During the show's eight-year run, she enjoyed an on- and off-screen chemistry with the elder Ebsen. During the show's run, she was reunited with former classmate and best friend Bill Bixby on one episode. After her stint on Barnaby Jones, Meriwether became best friends and kept Ebsen in touch for many years until his own death on July 6, 2003. She is best known in the UK for her portrayal of Lily Munster in the 1988 remake of The Munsters, The Munsters Today, in which she starred alongside Jason Marsden, John Schuck, Howard Morton and Hilary Van Dyke.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Meriwether appeared on Circus of the Stars four times. She also served as a panelist on the game show Match Game.

Starting January 8, 1971, Lee Meriwether accompanied Andy Griffith in a short-lived series called The New Andy Griffith Show, as his wife Lee (along with their two children).

Between 1988–91, she had a three-year run as Lily Munster opposite John Schuck's Herman in The Munsters Today.

In the 1990s, she appeared as herself on an episode of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. She had a memorable exchange with Zorak, in which she said, For my money, Eartha [Kitt] was the best Catwoman. Zorak, portraying the evil Batmantis, replied, Give me your money, followed by a Batman-esque sound effect.

In 1996, Meriwether took over for Mary Fickett in the role of Ruth Martin on the soap opera All My Children. Fickett had occupied the role since its inception in 1970. After 26 years she wanted to go into semi-retirement as a recurring cast member. Negotiations with higher powers broke down and Meriwether was recast as Ruth Martin. In 1999, ABC deemed that they were at an impasse with Meriwether's agents. Mary Fickett was then brought back as a recurring cast member. Fickett called it quits for good in December 2000. ABC wanted to bring back the character of Ruth Martin in 2002 but Fickett remained in retirement. Meriwether was brought back and has been on periodically to date.

She also appeared Off-Broadway in the interactive comedy, Grandma Sylvia's Funeral.

Meriwether also voiced EVA in the video game Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for the PlayStation 3. She also appears in one of the game's opening videos. Here she plays a talkshow host having an interview with David Hayter, who voices Solid Snake.

Meriwether was married on April 20, 1958 to Frank Aletter, a TV and film actor. They divorced in 1974 and are the parents of actors Kyle Aletter-Oldham born May 31, 1960 in Los Angeles, California and Lesley A. Aletter, born November 12, 1963 in Los Angeles. Meriwether remarried September 21, 1986 to current husband Marshall Borden (Ryan's Hope, Luke Jackson #1 on One Life to Live).

Note: This profile was written in or before 2008.

Lee Meriwether Facts

Birth NameLee Ann Meriwether
OccupationActress, Model
BirthdayMay 27, 1935 (86)
BirthplaceLos Angeles, California, USA
Height5' 8½" (1m74)  How tall is Lee Meriwether compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Waiting In The Wings
The Ultimate Gift
The Undefeated
The Ultimate Life
Brothers O'Toole
Barnaby Jones
The Time Tunnel
Batman: The Movie
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