Lee was adorable and lovely and wholesome as Betty on “Barnaby Jones,” a decade after seducing Bruce Wayne as Catwoman.

As the widowed daughter-in-law of Barnaby Jones (Buddy Ebsen), Betty became a private investigator after her husband was murdered. Jones had retired and handed his business to his son Hal, who was murdered while working on a case. 

Barnaby and Betty joined forces to find the killer, and after they solved the murder, they continued to work as a team. As Ebsen aged during the seven-year series run, Lee played a more prominent role on the show.
Nominated for two Golden Globes (1975-76) and an Emmy (1977), Lee appeared in 178 episodes from 1973-80.

“I loved working with Buddy Ebsen,” she said. “We worked a lot and we worked long, hard hours. It was pure joy.”

A decade earlier Lee played Catwoman in the original “Batman” movie, released in 1966. Julie Newmar had played Catwoman in the “Batman” TV show which began a year earlier, but was committed for another film project and wasn't available for the role in the film. 

Although Julie became the cult favorite as Catwoman, many “Batman” fans believed that Lee was actually the purrfect feline villian. She was at her best when seducing Batman.

Lee also carried on Julie's tradition of wearing the skin tight sexy Catwoman outfit.
Julie Newmar Catwoman "Batman"
Peggy Lipton Julie Barnes "The Mod Squad"
Carolyn Jones The Addams Family Morticia Addams
Classic TV Beautiesw
No. 28
Classic TV Beauties 1970s Countdown
LEE MERIWETHER as Betty Jones in "Barnaby Jones"
“It had one zipper. Once I was zippered in it was very, very uncomfortable to wear,” she said. “Tighter than my skin? I can sit in my skin. I couldn't sit in that suit.”

Lee suggested the Catwoman meow that she made famous in the film. Growing up in Phoenix, she'd learned how to meow by listening to cats outside her home before falling asleep at night.

Born in Los Angeles, Lee attended high school in San Francisco with future singer Johnny Mathis and later attended San Francisco City College with future actor Bill Bixby.

The five-foot-8 ½ brunette won the Miss San Francisco beauty contest and then the 1954 Miss California pageant.

Her father passed away after she won Miss California and Lee opted not to go to Atlantic City for the pageant. However, Lee's mother convinced her to go because her late father would've wanted her to compete for the title. And when she was named Miss America 1955, Lee was the first Miss America crowned on live TV.
Yvonne Craig Batgirl "Batman"
Eartha Kitt Catwoman "Batman"
Other women of "Batman" on the
1960s Classic TV Beauties Countdown List
Eartha Kitt         Julie Newmar         Yvonne Craig
Lee Meriwether "Barnaby Jones" Betty Jones
Lee Meriwether as Catwoman
She joined “The Today Show” later that year and worked as a “Today Girl,” a correspondent who discussed fashion, lifestyle and light news stories.

While in New York, Lee studied acting with Lee Strasberg. She broke into TV with an appearance in “Man from UNCLE,” and also guest starred in TV series “The Fugitive,” “Star Trek,” and “Perry Mason.”

After “Barnaby Jones,” Lee portrayed Lily Munster for three seasons in “The Munsters Today.”

More recently, Lee is best known as Ruth Martin on the soap “All My Children.”

"I've been so incredibly lucky," Lee said in 2011. "One hears so many horror stories from actresses who test for role after role and never get anything. I've been working steadily for more years than I care to count."
Lee Meriwether "Barnaby Jones" Betty Jones
Lynda Day George "Mission Impossible" Lisa Casey
Barbara Eden "I Dream of Jeannie" Jeannie
Elizabeth Montgomery "Bewitched" Samantha Stephens
Goldie Hawn "Rowan & Martin's Laugh In"
Barbara Bain "Mission Impossible" Cinnamon Carter
Barbara Feldon "Get Smart" Agent 99
Diana Rigg "The Avengers" Emma Peel
Kate Jackson "Charlie's Angels" Sabrina Duncan