Lee Meriwether
Meriwether in 2008
Lee Ann Meriwether

(1935-05-27) May 27, 1935 (age 89)
EducationGeorge Washington High School
Alma materCity College of San Francisco
  • Actress
  • model
Years active1954–present
Known forBarnaby Jones
The Time Tunnel
TitleMiss San Francisco 1954
Miss California 1954
Miss America 1955
PredecessorEvelyn Margaret Ay
SuccessorSharon Ritchie
(m. 1958; div. 1974)
Marshall Borden
(m. 1986)

Lee Ann Meriwether (born May 27, 1935)[1] is an American actress, former model, and the winner of the 1955 Miss America pageant. She has appeared in many films and television shows, notably as Betty Jones, the title character's secretary and daughter-in-law in the 1970s crime drama Barnaby Jones starring Buddy Ebsen. The role earned her two Golden Globe Award nominations in 1975 and 1976, and an Emmy Award nomination in 1977. She is also known for her portrayal of Catwoman, replacing Julie Newmar in the film version of Batman (1966), and for a co-starring role on the science fiction series The Time Tunnel. Meriwether had a recurring role as Ruth Martin on the daytime soap opera All My Children until the end of the series in September 2011.

Early life

Meriwether was born in Los Angeles, California, to Claudius Gregg Meriwether and Ethel Eve Mulligan. She has one brother, Don Brett Meriwether. 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 City College of San Francisco, where one of her classmates was fellow actor Bill Bixby.[2]

After winning Miss San Francisco, Meriwether won Miss California 1954,[3] then was crowned Miss America in 1955 with her recital of a John Millington Synge monologue. She then appeared that Sunday on What's My Line?, hosted by John Charles Daly (who also emceed the pageant that year). [4] Following her reign as Miss America, she joined the Today show.[5]

An August 1, 1956, international news wirephoto of Meriwether and Joe DiMaggio announced their engagement. According to DiMaggio biographer Richard Ben Cramer, however, it was a rumor started by Walter Winchell.[6]



Meriwether was a "Today Girl" on NBC's The Today Show from 1955 to 1956. Her feature film debut came in 1959 as Linda Davis in 4D Man, starring Robert Lansing. She appears in The Phil Silvers Show episode, "Cyrano de Bilko".

Publicity photo for The Today Show (1955)


In 1961, Meriwether guest starred once as Gloria in the episode "Buddy and the Amazon" on her first husband's (Frank Aletter) one-season CBS sitcom, Bringing Up Buddy. She also appeared in Leave It To Beaver episode "Community Chest" in season four. In 1962, she was cast as Martha Elweiss in the episode "My Child Is Yet a Stranger" on the CBS anthology series, The Lloyd Bridges Show. She played Nurse Dickens in a 1962 episode of the ABC sitcom, I'm Dickens, He's Fenster. From 1963 to 1965, she was cast in different roles in eight episodes of the NBC medical drama, Dr. Kildare. In 1964, she played the character Jeanelle in "This Is Going to Hurt Me More Than It Hurts You" on the CBS adventure series, Route 66. In 1965, she appeared in an episode on The Jack Benny Program as The Secretary. In a 1965 episode of 12 O'Clock High, "Mutiny at Ten Thousand Feet", she played Lieutenant Amy Patterson, and in the episodes "The Idolator" (also 1965) and "The Outsider" (1966), she played Captain Phyllis Vincent. She also guest starred in the season 2 episode "Big Brother". She was a regular on the single season science fiction television series The Time Tunnel with James Darren and Robert Colbert in 1966–1967.

Meriwether in a publicity photo for The Time Tunnel (1966)
Meriwether as Catwoman in the film Batman (1966) replacing Julie Newmar, who originated the role in the television series.

Meriwether appeared as Dr. Egret on the NBC series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ("The Mad, Mad Tea Party", 1965) and in an episode of Hazel ("How to Lose 30 Pounds in 30 Minutes", also 1965) she played Miss Wilson, the owner of an exercise studio. Meriwether portrayed The Catwoman for the Batman movie (1966), and also appeared in two episodes of the Batman TV series in 1967 as Lisa Carson, a love interest to Bruce Wayne in the episodes "King Tut's Coup" and "Batman's Waterloo". In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she had guest starring roles in numerous TV series, including The Fugitive, Mannix, Star Trek episode "That Which Survives" (1969), Perry Mason episodes #245 "The Case of the Cheating Chancellor" and "The Case of the Frustrated Folksinger" (both 1965), and the F Troop episode "O'Rourke vs. O'Reilly".

In films, she joined John Wayne and Rock Hudson for The Undefeated,[7] and Andy Griffith in Angel in My Pocket (both 1969).[8] In the same year as those two films, she played IMF spy Tracey in six Mission: Impossible episodes during season four after Barbara Bain's departure.


Meriwether co-starred in two productions with Andy Griffith: the movie Angel in My Pocket (1968) and the short-lived sitcom The New Andy Griffith Show (1971).

Meriwether began her award-nominated role as secretary and daughter-in-law Betty Jones in the 1973–1980 CBS series Barnaby Jones, opposite Buddy Ebsen.[9] During the series' eight-year run she enjoyed an on- and off-screen chemistry with the elder Ebsen.[7] During the series' run, she was reunited with her former classmate and best friend Bill Bixby during one episode. After her stint on Barnaby Jones, Meriwether became best friends with Ebsen, keeping in touch for many years until his death on July 6, 2003. She starred in the 1978 television movies True Grit: A Further Adventure with Warren Oates as Rooster Cogburn and Cruise Into Terror with an all-star ensemble cast, appeared on Circus of the Stars four times, and was a regular panelist on the game show Match Game.


Meriwether portrayed Lily Munster in the 1988–1991 revival of the 1960s television sitcom The Munsters, titled The Munsters Today, in which she starred alongside Jason Marsden, John Schuck, Howard Morton and Hilary Van Dyke.[7] She also made several guest appearances on The Love Boat and Fantasy Island.


In the 1990s, she appeared as herself on an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast. In 1993, she guest starred on Murder, She Wrote, episode "Ship of Thieves". In 1996, Meriwether took over for Mary Fickett in the role of Ruth Martin on the soap opera All My Children, Fickett having played the role since its inception in 1970.[10] After twenty-six years, Fickett wanted to go into semi-retirement as a recurring cast member. Negotiations with the network broke down and Meriwether was cast as Ruth Martin. In 1998, ABC deemed that they were at an impasse with Meriwether's agents and Mary Fickett was brought back as a recurring cast member. Fickett retired again, this time for good in December 2000. ABC decided to bring back the character of Ruth Martin in 2002, but Fickett remained in retirement. Meriwether was hence brought back and remained a featured recurring performer on the show until it ended.


Meriwether in 2005

In 2002, she appeared in the documentary film Miss America. In 2003, Meriwether appeared in the TV-Movie Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt. She also appeared off-Broadway in the interactive comedy, Grandma Sylvia's Funeral. She voiced Big Mama 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 as a talkshow host having an interview with David Hayter, who voices Solid Snake in the game.[11] In 2006, she joined James Garner, Abigail Breslin, Bill Cobbs and others in The Ultimate Gift. In 2008, Meriwether had a brief cameo as comic book character Battle Diva in the episode "Harper Knows" of the Disney Channel original series Wizards of Waverly Place. In 2010, she was once again reunited on screen with Hollywood veteran Bill Cobbs in No Limit Kids: Much Ado About Middle School. She voices President Winters in the video game Vanquish by PlatinumGames.[12]


Meriwether continued to work on stage, television, game voice-overs, and feature films. She has made guest appearances on Desperate Housewives, Hawaii Five-0, The League, and Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. Most recently, she revisited her role as Miss Hastings in the sequel/prequel to The Ultimate Gift, The Ultimate Life (2013), directed by Michael Landon Jr.[13] She is also starring in the short film Kitty.

She also makes appearances at Comic Cons where she speaks about her roles in Batman, Star Trek, and Time Tunnel.[14]

Personal life

On April 20, 1958, Meriwether married Frank Aletter. They had two daughters, actresses Kyle Aletter-Oldham and Lesley A. Aletter, and divorced in 1974. On September 21, 1986, Meriwether married Marshall Borden.[15][16]



Year Title Role Notes
1959 4D Man Linda Davis
1963 The Courtship of Eddie's Father Lee, Tom's Receptionist Uncredited
1966 Batman Selina Kyle / Catwoman, Kitka
1966 Namu, the Killer Whale Kate Rand
1968 The Legend of Lylah Clare Young Girl
1969 Angel in My Pocket Mary Elizabeth Whitehead
1969 The Undefeated Margaret Langdon
1973 The Brothers O'Toole Paloma Littleberry
2005 Gone Postal Fran Short film
2006 The Ultimate Gift Miss Hastings
2007 Say It in Russian Party guest
2008 Touching Home Grandma Eleanor
2008 Twisted Faith Mother Clare Short film
2010 No Limit Kids: Much Ado About Middle School Katie Direct-to-video
2011 Secret Identity Faye Florence Short film
2012 Sunset Stories Marie
2012 Silent But Deadly Vivian
2013 Remember to Breathe Alice Short film
2013 Birthday Cake Opal Hunt
2013 The Ultimate Life Miss Hastings
2013 The Curse of the Un-Kissable Kid Gypsy Short film
2014 Waiting in the Wings: The Musical Ethel
2014 Abaddon Old Ana
2014 Heaven Help Us Helen Short film
2015 A Horse for Summer Patsy
2015 Sunny in the Dark Dorothy
2015 In Memory Beth Sawyer Short film
2016 Kitty Mrs Tinsley Short film
2016 A Christmas in New York Irene Burgess
2017 Diary of a Lunatic Trew's Mother
2017 Breaking Legs GG
2017 Batman vs. Two-Face Lucilee Diamond Voice, direct-to-video[17]
2018 Hell's Kitty Grandma Kyle
2018 Still Waiting In The Wings Ethel
2018 Love & Debt Mrs Markson


Year Title Role Notes
1954–1955 The Philco Television Playhouse Diane 3 episodes
1956 Matinee Theatre Episode: "Sincerely Yours, Charlie Fisher"
1957 The Alcoa Hour Girl in the Sketch Episode: "Protégé"
1957 Men of Annapolis The Girl Episode: "The Challenge"
1958 The Millionaire Nancy McKuehn Episode: "The Rod Matthews Story"
1958 The Phil Silvers Show Natalie Rumplemeyer Episode: "Cyrano De Bilko"
1958 Dragnet Vicki Tearson Episode: "The Big Rip"
1958 Omnibus Beautiful Witch Episode: "Mrs McThing"
1960–1962 The Clear Horizon Enid Ross
1961 Bringing Up Buddy Gloria Arnold Episode: "Buddy and the Amazon"
1961 Leave It to Beaver Young Woman Neighbor Episode: "Community Chest"
1962 The Lloyd Bridges Show Martha Elweiss Episode: "My Child Is Yet a Stranger"
1962 I'm Dickens, He's Fenster 2nd Hospital Receptionist Episode: "Nurse Dickens"
1962 Alcoa Premiere Kerry Episode: "Whatever Happened to Miss Illinois?"
1963–1965 Dr. Kildare Nurse Bonnie Tynes / Nurse Angela Springer / Nurse Harper / Nurse Adams / Nurse Betty Johnson 8 episodes
1964 Route 66 Jeanelle Episode: "This Is Going to Hurt Me More Than It Hurts You"
1964 The Young Marrieds Ann Reynolds #1 4 episodes
1964–1965 The Jack Benny Program Secretary / Mother With Baby w/ Andy Williams 2 episodes
1965 Perry Mason Evelyn Wilcox / Natalie Graham 2 episodes
1965 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Piper's Secretary Episode: "Double Jeopardy"
1965 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Dr. Egret Episode: "The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair"
1965 Hazel Miss Wilson Episode: "How to Lose 30 Pounds in 30 Minutes"
1965 F Troop Lily O'Reilly Episode: "O'Rourke vs. O'Reilly"
1965–1966 Twelve O'Clock High Capt. Phyllis Vincent / Lt. Amy Patterson 3 episodes
1965–1971 The F.B.I. Joanna Lauren / Liz / Marian Converse / Joanna Laurens 5 episodes
1966 The Fugitive Willis Hempstead Episode: "Not with a Whimper"
1966 My Three Sons Phyllis Allen Episode: "What About Harry?"
1966 Vacation Playhouse Doris Episode: "My Son, the Doctor"
1966–1967 The Time Tunnel Dr. Ann MacGregor 30 episodes
1967 Batman Lisa Carson 2 episodes
1967 Iron Horse Anne Daugherty Episode: "Dealer's Choice"
1967–1970 Family Affair Claudia Wells / Lise Lowell 2 episodes
1969 Star Trek: The Original Series Losira S3:E17, "That Which Survives"
1969 Land of the Giants Mother – Mrs Bara Episode: "Rescue"
1969 Mannix Reva Daniels S3-Episode 05: "A Question of Midnight"
1969–1970 Mission: Impossible Tracey / Anna Rojak 8 episodes
1970 The Name of the Game Bridget Episode: "Island of Gold and Precious Stones"
1970 My World and Welcome to It Mrs Bessinger Episode: "The Middle Years"
1970 Insight Miriam Episode: "The 7 Minute Life of James Houseworthy"
1970 Nanny and the Professor Marrijane Finley Episode: "An Element of Risk"
1970 The Immortal Sigrid Bergen Episode: "The Queen's Gambit"
1971 The New Andy Griffith Show Lee Sawyer 10 episodes
1971 Dan August Miranda Lewis Episode: "The Law"
1971 Love, American Style Segment: "Love and the Sweet Sixteen"
1972 Longstreet Miss Cooper Episode: "Through Shattering Glass"
1973 The Doris Day Show Lois Frazier Episode: "Hospital Benefit"
1973–1980 Barnaby Jones Betty Jones 178 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama (1975–1976)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1977)
1975 Cannon Betty Jones Episode: "The Deadly Conspiracy: Part 1"
1977 Having Babies II Martha Cooper Television film
1978 Cruise Into Terror Lil Mather Television film
1978 True Grit: A Further Adventure Annie Sumner Television film
1979 Time Express Vanessa Cartwright Episode: "The Copy-Writer/The Figure Skater"
1979 Mirror, Mirror Vanessa Wagner Television film
1979–1980 CHiPs 2 episodes
1980 Tourist Lulu Flemington Television film
1981–1984 The Love Boat Jessica Elliott / Barbara Braden / Ann Marshall 3 episodes
1983 Fantasy Island Leslie Darnell Episode: "The Butler's Affair/Roarke's Sacrifice"
1984 Finder of Lost Loves Julia Bennett Parsons Episode: "Portraits"
1985 Hotel Addie Meredith Episode: "Cry Wolf"
1985 Glitter Episode: "The Runaway"
1985 True Confessions Episode: "He's So Young"
1985–1995 Murder, She Wrote Vanessa Thorpe / Leslie Hunter / Grace Overholtz 3 episodes
1986 Mr. Belvedere Donna Flannagan Episode: "Reunion"
1987 You Are the Jury Marjorie Forrest Episode: "The State of Oregon vs. Stanley Manning"
1987 Jonathan Winters: On the Ledge Television film
1988–1991 The Munsters Today Lily Munster 73 episodes
1991 Jake and the Fatman Ellen Kurtin Episode: "Nevertheless"
1992 Dark Justice Lee Marshall Episode: "Happy Mothers Day"
1996 Duckman Widow Liebner (voice) Episode: "Pig Amok"
1996–2011 All My Children Ruth Martin 52 episodes
2000 Touched by an Angel Karla Episode: "The Face on the Bar Room Floor"
2003 Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt Waitress in Diner Television film
2008 Wizards of Waverly Place Battle Diva Episode: "Harper Knows"
2012 Desperate Housewives Doris Episode: "What's to Discuss, Old Friend"
2012 Hell's Kitty Grandma Kyle Episode: "Catwoman vs. Hell's Kitty"
2012 Hawaii Five-0 Helen Tilton Episode: "Mohai"
2012 Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 Marjorie Meyers Episode: "Sexy People..."
2012 The League Gumma Eve Episode: "Bro-Lo El Cordero"
2012–2014 Project: Phoenix Birdie Spencer 6 episodes
2015 The Ultimate Legacy Miss Hastings Television film
2017 Suspense Ellen Kirk Episode: "'Keepers of the Twilight'"
2018 Rise of the Catwoman Nana Episode: "The Night Shift"
2018 Kaplan's Korner Auditioner Episode: "He's Gone"

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2008 Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Big Mama (EVA) [17]
2010 Vanquish President Elizabeth Winters [17]



  1. ^ "Almanac". The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald. May 27, 2023. p. A3. ProQuest 2820801879. Today's Birthdays: Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is 100. Author John Barth is 93. Actor Lee Meriwether is 88. Actor Louis Gossett Jr. is 87. See also:
    • "Almanac". The Hartford Courant. May 27, 1988. p. C6. ProQuest 1469627269. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is 65. Actress Lee Meriwether is 53. Actor Louis Gossett Jr. is 52.
  2. ^ Bergman, Julia; Mathes, Valerie Sherer; White, Austin (2010). City College of San Francisco: The Campus History Series. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. X. ISBN 978-1-4396-2526-2. Retrieved 2021-10-06.
  3. ^ "Miss California History". Miss California. Archived from the original on October 13, 2018. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  4. ^ "What's My Line? - Lee Meriwether; Alfred Hitchcock (Sep 12, 1954)". YouTube.
  5. ^ Erickson, Hal (2012). "Lee Meriwether Biography". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  6. ^ Cramer, Richard Ben (May 2000). Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 376–378. ISBN 978-0-6848-5391-8.
  7. ^ a b c King, Susan (August 19, 2013). "There she is .... Lee Meriwether". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  8. ^ Michalski, Jennifer (December 13, 2013). "Where Are They Now: The 22 Most Influential Former Beauty Queens". Business Insider. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  9. ^ Fakuda, Eiko; Gritten, David (September 22, 1980). "Lee Meriwether Lost 'Barnaby' but Gained a Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze". People. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  10. ^ Noland, Claire (September 12, 2011). "Mary Fickett dies at 83; longtime actress on 'All My Children'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  11. ^ Hanson, Ben (February 28, 2014). "Channeling Creativity: The Story Behind Metal Gear Solid 4's Intro". Game Informer. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  12. ^ Kellams, J. P. (October 25, 2010). "Narrative Design in Vanquish". PlatinumGames. Archived from the original on September 5, 2014. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  13. ^ Scheck, Frank (September 5, 2013). "The Ultimate Life: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  14. ^ Costello, Alex (May 24, 2017). "Eternal Con Returns July 1 And 2, This Time At The Nassau Coliseum". Patch. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  15. ^ "Lee Meriwether Biography". Actor Database. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  16. ^ "Photo Flash: Lee Meriwether Honored By Theatre West". BroadwayWorld. February 14, 2018. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  17. ^ a b c "Lee Meriwether (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved October 6, 2023. A green check mark indicates that a role has been confirmed using a screenshot (or collage of screenshots) of a title's list of voice actors and their respective characters found in its opening and/or closing credits and/or other reliable sources of information.
Awards and achievements Preceded byEvelyn Margaret Ay Miss America 1955 Succeeded bySharon Ritchie Preceded byPatricia Johns Miss California 1954 Succeeded byBarbara Harris Preceded byJulie Newmar Catwoman Actress 1966 Succeeded byJulie Newmar Preceded byYvonne De Carlo Lily Munster Actress 1988–1991 Succeeded byVeronica Hamel