Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt - RIP

Eartha Kitt, the multi-talented, singer, actress and author has died at the age of 81 from colon cancer. Her career spanned sixty years and made her an international star.

Born to poor parents [a mother of African-American/Cherokee heritage and a white father] in 1927, Eartha was sent to live with relatives when her mother's new husband refused to have a mixed child in the house. Eartha's big break came in 1946 when she auditioned and won a spot as a dancer with the Dunham dance group. This in turn led to work on Broadway and later a Paris nightclub where she was spotted by Orson Welles who called her the "most exciting woman in the world" and cast her in his Paris stage production of "Faust."

From there her career really took off with a recording contract [Eartha could sing in several languages] and songs such as "I Want to be Evil" and the classic "Santa, Baby." At a time when women of color were often seen on television as maids and secretaries, Ms. Kitt had a reoccurring role as the sexy Catwoman on the popular tv series Batman.

In 1968, her career in the US came to a screeching halt. Ms. Kitt, along with several other important ladies of the time had been invited to a luncheon at the White House hosted by President Johnson's wife. They were there to discuss youth crime. Ms. Kitt brought up the Viet Nam war and the unrest it was causing among young people, and Mrs. Johnson took offense. The incident made the papers and suddenly Ms. Kitt found herself blacklisted. So she went overseas where she continued to perform until her return to Broadway in 1974. Jimmy Carter invited her back to the White House in 1978. In 2006, President Bush had her back once again, this time to light the National Christmas tree. Ms. Kitt never retired. She is one of the few entertainers to earn nominations for Emmy, [she won two and was nominated for three], Grammy [nominated twice] and Tony [nominatied twice] awards.

Ms. Kitt leaves behind a daughter and two grandchildren. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, friends and fans.

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