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One of the effects of a television show becoming a sensation is that the actors involved are transformed into cultural icons. That was certainly the case for Julie Newmar, the dancer, model and actress who played Catwoman on the 1966 Batman TV series. Her form-fitting costume accentuated her hourglass figure, with Newmar even recommending the belt lowered from her waist to her hips to draw attention to her curves. 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, that went beyond mere attitude and entered into the world of inventions when she patented a special type of pantyhose designed to accentuate a woman’s behind! Read on for 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 they flatten the lower abdomen, creating 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 that if the fabric flattens a woman’s stomach, it is bound to have the same effect on the woman’s derriere. Newmar, who certainly knew a thing or two about accentuating female body parts, decided 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 employ 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.
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 them is very impressive.
The legend is …
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