We all know Julie Newmar as “Catwoman” in the 1960’s TV Series Batman. But did you know that in 1954, she was Julie Newmeyer in the beloved Seven Brides For Seven Brothers? Seven Brides For Seven Brothers is one of my favorite film musicals ever, and I had the honor of interviewing Julie – who played one of the seven brides named Dorcas. Julie was a classically trained ballerina who showed off her ballet skills in the film – although not as much as she would have liked.
1)Julie, Dorcas in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers is my favorite role/film of yours. Describe the auditioning process for your role in the film.
It was a dance audition solely, not singing. I had had more dance training than the others, but I was 5-6 inches taller than the other girls.
2)Were you considered for another role in the film? Did you audition for another role? Or did you know going in that you would be auditioning for Dorcas?
I do remember that Virginia Gibson who had been in previous films was allowed to use her own singing voice,.
3)What did you think about your character Dorcas?
She is adorable, innocent. I had just turned 19.
4)What was it like working with the brilliant Howard Keel and the amazing Jane Powell?
Howard Keel was Mr Dreamy. He still is or was. Jane Powell we loved. For their love scenes that had to put Janie on an apple box, maybe two.
5)It looked like a very tight-knit family on the set. Was it? Was there any fighting or jealousy?
We were totally loving the experience of making this movie. There were five weeks of dance rehearsals before the movie went before the camera.
6)Of the other brides, who did you hang out with the most?
We all joined together in the MGM commissary for lunch. I can’t remember any afterhours socializing. Jacques D’Amboise writes some funny stories about making the movie in his book: “I was a Dancer”. He was only 18 years old and the star of the New York City Ballet. We were all very impressed with him. Tommy Rall was a great dancer as well. You can see him in “Kiss Me Kate” with Bob Fosse. Matt Mattox was a sensational dancer. All the men except my partner in the film were great dancers (Jeff Richards)
7)What was your favorite scene that you filmed in the film?
The barn raising of course. Tommy Rall doing back flips and landing on two narrow saw horse planks, wow! The speed of all the action and choreography was brilliant by the very talented Michael Kidd. This film was a work of superbly talented people on a narrow budget and it broke all records at Radio City Music Hall in New York .
8)Your character Dorcas does some ballet. You had trained in ballet as a child and teen, right? Did you find Dorcas’ dance movements easy or hard because of your training?
I found the movements insanely easy and was jealous that the boys had more exciting dance moves.
9)What was the very first scene that you filmed as Dorcas? What was the very last scene that you filmed as Dorcas?
What I do remember was that the studio wouldn’t send us to Sun Valley Idaho where the beautiful outdoor winter scenes were made. The snow, on the movie set for the winter scenes would fly up in the air like so much soap powder, this amused me. And the hay in the barn where I tussled with Benjamin was not soft and fresh but dry and itched a lot.
10)Were there any challenges during filming?
The challenges were more for the studio as MGM didn’t have high expectations for “Seven Brides”. They thought: “what…men dancing!”
Rather, the studio put its money in “Carousel”. However Seven Brides became one of the best musicals of all time. It was also an original story made for film.