Mostly Credited As: Lee Meriwether
Sometimes Credited As: Lee Meriwether Borden
Lee Ann Meriwether
Birth Name: Lee Ann Meriwether
Date Of Birth: May 27, 1935 (Age 80)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California
Height: 5' 8 ½" (1.73 m)
Warm and witty: that's the way her friends describe Lee Meriwether. The fact that she has always one of the most beautiful people on the screen doesn't seem nearly as important - ever to Lee herself,
Any girl who spent her childhood playing cowboys and Indians and her teens playing baseball, isn't going to place too much emphasis on beauty.
"I was a real tomboy" Lee remembers, "And in my spare time, a movie fan, I saw all the westerns, I just tolerated the women in those shoot-em-ups; they were a necessary evil. The only ones I admired were those who got to shoot and ride-, I still long to play in a western where I get to ride a horse at breakneck speed and shoot a gun and do all the things the men get to do. I did play in 'The Undefeated' with John Wayne, but I had to be a lady."
Born in Los Angeles, the daughter of Gregg and Ethel Meriwether, she moved to Phoenix when she was three and her brother Don only two months old. Here in the open spaces of the old west, Lee grew up.
"We did a lot of running around in loin cloths, using our fingers as guns," she signs reminiscently In between she played football and baseball. But the hoyden grew up to become Miss America.
Lee won that coveted title while she was attending City College of San Francisco as a Radio and TV Theater Arts and English major.
During her year on campus, a local fraternity sponsored her for the preliminaries of the Miss America Pageant. In swift succession she found herself Miss San Francisco, then Miss California. When her father passed away it took all her mother's persuasion to convince her she should go ahead with her plans. She went to Atlantic City and won.
"I was Miss Unconscious of 1955," says Lee. When they placed the banner on my lap, I was going to give it to the girl next to me. It just never occurred to me that I was going to win."
With the title came a scholarship offer which would enable her to continue with her education» But following her year's obligatory tour calling for personal appearances all over the United States, she was asked to become Women's Editor of the Dave Garroway national television show "Today." Pageant officials agreed to let her enroll for a four year course of study with famed drama coach Lee Strasberg, filling out any leftover time with twenty hours of dance classes a week and some singing and fencing lessons thrown in for good measure.
Her first TV appearance was for Philco, who just happened to be one of the sponsors of the Pageant. "They wrote two shows for the winner for their Philco Playhouse. When you think of what they undertook with an absolute novice, it's frightening. But I loved it. How I loved it!"
During her fourteen-month "Today" tenure, Lee supplemented her learning with actual experience by appearing in a number of TV dramas and several summers in stock. She also co-starred in a science-fiction movie.
Lee met actor Frank Aletter in New York, where he was appearing in a Broadway musical. They were married on April 20, 1958. Following their wedding, Aletter went on tour with the show and his beautiful young bride accompanied him.
The Aletters returned to her birthplace in 1960, two weeks before the arrival of their first child, Kyle, on May 31. Their second daughter, Lesley, was born on November 12, 1963.
While Frank starred in three series one after the other, Lee appeared on TV in two soap operas, made guest appearances on almost every prime time show, starred in several films and a TV series titled "Time Tunnel" and appeared in a play. As usual she squeezed a 48-hour day into 24. Things are never slow in the Aletter menage.
"It's a good thing Frank loves to cook," said Lee. "When I'm not able to make it home in time to get the dinner, he does it, I'm not an inventive cook, I'm a running-scared chicken cook. I don't fool around with recipes, I follow them exactly. Frank just grabs handfuls of ingredients, throws everything around, tasting as he goes. If I did that, I wouldn't be able to eat the meal . Mine is a staple kind of cooking; his is sheer delight."
The Meriwether-Aletter alliance was one of the town's most successful. They lived far out in the San Fernando Valley at the foot of the Granada Hills in a comfortable ranch-style home, complete with swimming pool and a Basset hound called Mumbles.
Her TV credits are impressive, in Batman Lee played a sexy Catwoman. In the seventies, Lee accepted the lead role as Barnaby Jones' secretary, by the 80's, she was chosen to play Lily Munster opposite John Schuck's Herman in the revival series The Munsters Today. By the 90's, this actress returned to soap operas and some parts on stage. After her divorce from Frank Aletter, Lee married Marshall Borden, a soap opera actor and they are still married.