At 42, Julie Newmar Takes Her First Husband, and a Texas Lawyer Gets His Own Living Doll

Texas lawyer John Holt Smith, 36, has been married once before and has three children. Actress Julie Newmar, 42, is a leggy veteran of the sex symbol business and claims she’s received as many as nine proposals in one year. So why are they acting like two hot-eyed adolescents who’ve just discovered what comes after spin the bottle?

Julie, a longtime bachelor girl who finally wed last month, all but emits puffs of smoke every time she eyes her groom. Their enthusiastic lovemaking, she confides to friends, talk-show hosts and TV watchers by the million, goes on night and day—25 times a week, by one of her estimates. “But she’s bad at numbers,” Smith scoffs. Anyway, Julie pipes up, “It’s the places, not the number of times.”

Indeed. He volunteers that they’ve tried sex “on land, sea and air.” Their trystings have taken place while awash in the Caribbean Sea, aloft in a friend’s hot-air balloon and grounded on a Texas ranch. “We even take showers together,” he adds. One reason for their nonstop sport is that Julie desires motherhood. “We’re working on the fun part now,” Smith jokes, “but we’re getting ready for the serious part.” Julie grins and squeezes his thigh.

Newmar can hardly claim to be discovering belatedly the joys of sex. She’s been a starlet for 23 years, condemned largely to a series of cheesecakey roles that demanded less of her than they did of the towels and skimpy costumes that preserved her last few shreds of modesty.

More recently she has become a professional celebrity rivaling even Sylvia Miles on the coast-to-coast party-go-round. The idyll with Holt (he’s dropped his first name, John, to reduce mistaken identity problems with all the other John Smiths) began two years ago over cocktails in Los Angeles. “There was a woman’s hand on top of this room divider,” Holt recalls. “I walked over and on impulse reached up and held it. It didn’t move—a little while longer and, when it still didn’t move, I got up on my tiptoes and looked over. I knew who she was immediately.” (Newmar is a statuesque 5’11”.) They spent the evening talking and stayed in touch. But it wasn’t until January of this year, when Holt’s divorce proceedings from his first wife of 13 years had begun (“She’s a wonderful woman,” he judges, “but we married too early”), that he called Julie in Los Angeles. She responded with an invitation to join her on a vacation in Guatemala.

“Afterwards,” Julie says, “I just said, ‘Bye, so long, maybe I’ll see you again.’ I didn’t know I was madly in love with him.” But, listless and depressed when she returned home, Newmar made her first visit to her analyst in over a year—”I thought I had graduated.” She was telling the doctor about Smith when, she says, “Tears fell out of my eyes, and the great statement came that I loved him. I ran home, called Western Union and gave them the message: I LOVE YOU.” When it arrived, Holt admits he was startled. “I hadn’t intended to see her again,” he says. “She was so casual about it when she left Guatemala.” But when he later proposed to Julie at New York’s 21 Club, her response was a kiss so passionate that the shocked maître d’ asked them to leave.

Home for the newlyweds is now Fort Worth, where they share a modest two-bedroom apartment in suburban Indian Hills. “Julie won’t have any trouble adjusting to the life-style here,” Holt insists. “People will come to know her and love her.” Julie perceives “a certain curiosity about me now,” and is cautious. “I’ll have to slow down a bit,” she admits. “All my habits are double-time.”

The daughter of an L.A. college professor and an ambitious ex-Ziegfeld Girl mother who crammed her childhood with ballet, piano and voice lessons, Julie dropped out of UCLA when she won a chorus spot in an MGM dancers’ audition. Broadway’s Silk Stockings and movies like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers made her (along with such contemporaries as Tina Louise and Rita Gam) a longtime contender to fill whatever was the title held by Jayne Mansfield. Added to which Julie was one of the few glamor girls around whose IQ of 135 was higher than the sum of her measurements (37-23-37). The combination won Newmar a best-supporting-actress Tony in 1959 for The Marriage-Go-Round, but while critics generally praised her talent for comedy, she had only a short run on TV, first with Robert Cummings in My Living Doll and then as Catwoman on Batman.

Atlanta-born Smith was a successful attorney with a Fort Worth law firm but, he says, “I’m anything but wealthy; I’m one of the wishful wealthy.” He has quit the firm to practice on his own, working on a bank charter and a possible Dallas-London air route. His best prospective client, though, may be Julie and her marketing problems for her latest invention, a derriere-firming pantyhose (PEOPLE, Feb. 14). (She has other patents on brassiere designs and a garter belt.)

So far Newmar doesn’t regret placing her career second to her Texan. “We’re only 2½ hours from New York and L.A., if I want to go there,” she points out. “But now I’d give up my career like that”—snap!—”if Holt wanted me to.” He agrees. “This is where we’re going to live,” Smith rumbles. “We talked it over, and Julie said it well: the woman comes to the man.” Of course, he adds graciously, “I want her to develop her career if she wants.” (The question may be moot: Julie hasn’t made a movie since 1969’s The Maltese Bippy, and her last shot at theater ended during rehearsals when producer Joe Papp fired her from Boom Boom Room.)

Holt is unfazed by jibes that their union will never last. “I’ll book all bets,” he boasts. As for their six-year age difference, he snorts, “Julie is many years younger than other women in their 20s.” Julie answers with an analogy: “You know how dolphins play, close, in perfect harmony? It’s that way with us. Our biorhythms match perfectly, physically, emotionally and intellectually. It’s more than words can say. We have total communication. It’s perfection. Our relationship was made in heaven.”

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