Lee grew up in San Francisco, attended high school with Johnny Mathis, and was a student at City College when she heard that she had been nominated to be a contestant in the Miss San Francisco pageant. She won, and kept right on winning up through Miss California and eventually Miss America, 1955 (the first Miss America pageant to be televised).
While still touring the country during her reign as Miss America, she was offered a spot as the first permanent “Today Girl” with Dave Garraway (and Fred J. Muggs, the chimp) on THE TODAY SHOW, leading to numerous guest starring roles on television (HAZEL, LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, PERRY MASON, THE FBI, THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW, THE FUGITIVE, F TROOP, THE DORIS DAY SHOW, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, LAND OF THE GIANTS, STAR TREK, MATCH GAME, CIRCUS OF THE STARS) and eventually regular roles on series like THE TIME TUNNEL, THE NEW ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, BARNABY JONES, THE NEW MUNSTERS, and ALL MY CHILDREN (on which she still plays matriarch Ruth Martin).
Lee was also on the big screen; most notably as Catwoman in the 1966 feature, BATMAN, with Adam West and all the stars of the popular series, NAMU, ANGEL IN MY POCKET with Andy Griffith, and as Rock Hudson’s wife in THE UNDEFEATED starring John Wayne.
Throughout her career she has never lost her love of the stage. Having studied with Lee Strasberg, one of the founders of The Actor’s Studio in New York, she has continued to work and study her craft as long-time member of Theatre West, a nationally known performance workshop and theatre in Los Angeles where the original SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY—starring her friends, Joyce Van Patten and Betty Garrett—was created and sent to Broadway. Lee understudied both women in that cast and eventually starred in an anniversary production directed by Ms. Garrett.
Now she has adapted SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY into a one-woman show, THE WOMEN OF SPOON RIVER: THEIR VOICES FROM THE HILL in which she brings to life over twenty different women from the pages of Edgar Lee Masters’ epic work. Developed in collaboration with the Indiana University Southeast Theatre Department – with direction, scene and lighting design, and original music by IU Southeast faculty and staff – Ms. Meriwether will premiere this new production at the Robinson Theater on the IU Southeast campus in New Albany, Indiana. Following the performance, Lee will discuss her life and career and take questions from the audience.