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Julie Newmar
by Evan Numeroff

In July 2008, the N. Y. Daily News interviewed Batman icon Julie Newmar, the one and only Catwoman, who opened up publicly for the first time about having CMT. HNF contacted her, and we began talks about everything from living with CMT to the power of her positive life style. It turns out that in addition to a storied career as an actor and a dancer with killer, 33-inch-long gams once insured for $1 million by Lloyds of London, Ms. Newmar has built a fulfilling life as a world-class gardener, pianist, writer and business woman. We were intrigued and wanted to get to know her better.

In November, HNF president Allison Moore flew out to Brentwood and stayed with Ms. Newmar in her gorgeous home. Moore was immediately struck by the beauty and spirit of the 5-foot-11 blonde star who, at age 75, maintains a certain poise despite a lessening ability to walk with ease. Moore said, "The moment I entered the home, I felt a sense of warmth and positive energy."

Ms. Newmar first felt her symptoms in the year 2000, when it was suggested she had Spinal Muscular Atrophy. In 2007, a UCLA neurologist diagnosed her with CMT, putting a name to the disorder that was crimping her fluidity of movement. She told us that "I don't climb stairs and I had to stop running out in the garden because I would tumble in the tulips."

So far, the adjustments in her life have been subtle. Before being diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease, she decided intuitively not to put a second story on the house she was rebuilding. I prefer a bigger garden and smaller house anyway. I created paradise, and now, everything fits perfectly.

Moore reports, "I think she's an extraordinary person because she is a possibility thinker. She shows us that at 75 you can live with grace, still be beautiful though less mobile. She thinks and follows a healthy lifestyle. Every day she does an hour of exercise, beginning with a stretching routine and you should see her legs! She eats a lot of fish and vegetables, rather than meat and pasta or dessert. She doesn't go in the sun without putting a big hat on. I’ve learned to like what’s good for me, do the right thing. No doubt its her faith that sustains her. When we asked Ms. Newmar how she lives with this disease, she says, "I have a big capacity for joy, plus a kind of supreme guidance. It would be difficult without this, it is important to have spiritual strength." When she's in a low mood, she listens to the recordings of Abraham- Hicks, who originated "The Law of Attraction." "I recommend these CDs, she offers. “They lighten the load."

Although she loves to travel and has visited many countries over the years, including the Middle East in 2008, Ms. Newmar recognizes that CMT will put a limit to the physical travel that she will be able to do in the future. With that in mind, she has created a beautiful garden that draws inspiration from the gorgeous gardens of Southern France, England, Bali and Hawaii. "When I walk through my gardens, I travel to all of these places."

Ever putting a positive spin on things, Ms. Newmar says, I think it is an opportunity for me to reach more people now." Moore believes that Ms. Newmar could serve as a positive role model. "Julie is inspirational in so many ways. I think people with CMT can look at her and say, 'I want to be as healthy and as positive as Julie Newmar in the face of my disease.'

Interestingly enough, her son John, 27, is deaf, has Down’s syndrome, seizures, scoliosis. "He's my teacher," Ms. Newmar explains. "From him I have learned unconditional love, now I have to work it on myself."

Ms. Newmar says, "Even though certain things are taken away from us, no matter what, we evolve. Although Id like to be able to wear all the high heels and gorgeous clothes I have in my closet, many I cant. I don't need fancy dresses and high heels to put the message across."

What is the message? "Reach for the unique star that is you."

 

 


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