Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt Passes Away At Age 81

Kitt's Christmas Classic - Santa Baby


(CNN) -- Singer and actress Eartha Kitt has died, her publicist, Patty Freedman, told CNN on Thursday.

Kitt, 81, died in New York, where she was being treated for colon cancer, Freedman said. Her daughter, Kitt Shapiro, was by her side.

She was performing almost until the end, taping a PBS special six weeks ago in Chicago, Illinois. The show is set to air in February.

Her recording of the saucy Christmas song "Santa Baby" was certified gold last week.

Kitt was well known for her distinctive voice and made a name for herself in her portrayal of Catwoman in the television series "Batman." That role produced Kitt's recognizable sultry cat growl.

She worked in film, theater, cabaret, music and on television during her lengthy career. According to Kitt's official Web site, she was nominated for a Tony three times, a Grammy and Emmy twice.

According to the biography on that site, Kitt lived in Connecticut near her daughter and four grandchildren.

Kitt was ostracized at an early age because of her mixed-race heritage, the biography says. At age 8, she was sent from the cotton fields of South Carolina by her mother to live with her aunt in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, the site said.

As a teen, she auditioned for the famed Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe, was hired as a featured dancer and vocalist, and toured worldwide with the company.

This launched Kitt into a life of roles in the entertainment field.

According to the book "Contemporary Black Biography," she was adored in Europe in the 1950s as a cabaret singer.

In the United States, her dance career led to a critically acclaimed stint on Broadway, including the play "New Faces of 1952," which was later made into a movie.

Broadway stardom landed Kitt a recording deal that led to a string of best-selling records, including "Love for Sale," "I Want to Be Evil," "Santa Baby" and "Folk Tales of the Tribes of Africa." She recorded more than 20 albums, worked in hundreds of television and movie roles, and was invited as a guest to the White House several times.


What it didn't say was that Kitt took a hit professionally in the United States due to her political stances, especially her stance against the Vietnam War. She was able to survive financially because of her ability to work in Europe.

And, of course, she was my favorite Catwoman.



Brian said...

She was one of a kind.

Strong woman (without being abrasive or toxic), sexy (without being trashy), multi-talented, and conscientious... with a strong worldview. Can we get more Black women like this???????? :)

She knew that there would probably be a price for taking a stand on certain things... but she did it anyway. (how many artists tell the President & his wife that he's his house?).

The current generation of young entertainers tend to cower a lot more... and are more concerned with advancing their careers monetarily... in other words.. they don't really stand for anything anymore.... No real causes at all. The only "ism" that they are concerned with is Consumerism... Hoping that you continue to buy their product...and not wanting to do anything that might hurt that. That's their #1 concern above all else. There are a few exceptions... but artists like Eartha Kitt are much less common.


Hi there!!

Thank you for remembering her!

She was FIERCE!!!

She took the world by storm and did not accept a seat at the back of the bus in Hollywood...she wanted the best of everything.

She achieved the longevity that the Beyonces of this world only hope to have.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Anonymous said...

Eartha Kitt was and continues to be a legend... and it was so funny to find out that she starred in The Emperor's New Groove