Singer And Actress Eartha Kitt Dies
Singer and actress Eartha Kitt has died of colon cancer. She was 81. Kitt, who was ostracized as a child in South Carolina because of her mixed-race heritage, got her start in show business as a dancer and vocalist, and earned early international notice as a featured singer in a Paris nightclub.
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Caroline Framke from the A.V. Club argued that Madonna’s version increased the popularity of the song, initiating an “explosion of covers and parodies follow”. When asked about his thoughts on Madonna’s cover, Phil Springer said he was happy she covered the original Kitt rendition instead of the revised “This Year’s Santa Baby” from 1954. Randall Norberts from the Los Angeles Times insisted that “Madonna was the perfect adapter for the song when she recorded it in 1987”, comparing the lyrical messages between “Santa Baby” and her 1985 single “Material Girl“. After the release of Madonna’s “Santa Baby” in 1987, the song became licensed and was used in various theatrical releases and television series, such as Driving Miss Daisy , The Sopranos , and Elf .
Eartha Had Always Been A Big Inspiration For Her Daughter Who Later Launched A Lifestyle Brand Which Would Include Images And Writings Of Her Mom In Home Decor
Earlier in the month, Kitt uploaded;a beautiful birthday tribute to her 25-year old daughter Rachael Shapiro, posting lovely pictures of Rachel along with a great, love-filled caption that left us in doubt about how much she adores her gorgeous daughter.
As reported;by Foxnews, Kitt, who had;been very fond of her mother, recently shared some;interesting facts about;her TV;star mother, Eartha, who passed on in 2008 at age 81, having been diagnosed with colon cancer. Eartha started as a dancer in New York in the late 40’s after which she successfully took on music, film, Broadway, and television.
Kitt shared about her mother’s “magnetic personality” and how she became close friends with prominent Hollywood actors;Orsen Welles;and James Dean. She;mentioned that people;assumed Eartha was romantically involved with these actors but that was not the case.
Kitt also disclosed that playing ‘Catwoman’ in the “Batman” series was very significant for her mom as it had allowed her to be sexy without being stereotyped, noting that she blazed the trail for many other Black women to play similar roles.
Eartha had always been a big inspiration for her daughter;who later launched a lifestyle brand which;included images and writings of her mom in home decor, with the hope that they will continue to inspire fans of her mom. Kitt expressed her intentions saying:
;”May they touch your heart, as they do mine.”
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What Was Eartha Kitt Known For
After success performing in nightclubs, Eartha Kitt made her acting debut in Orson Welless Time Runs in 1950. Her appearance in the Broadway revue Leonard Sillmans New Faces of 1952 and her early 1950s recordings secured her stardom. Notable television roles included Catwoman in the 1960s series Batman and the voice of Yzma in the childrens television program The Emperors New School.
She Suffered Abandonment And Abuse
According to Biography, Eartha Kitt didn’t live with her mother, Anna Mae, for very long.;Anna Mae resented Kitt for her lighter skin tone, while the outside world oppressed the future star for her black heritage . Needless to say, this discrimination combo ostracized the young girl. It didn’t help that Anna Mae had suffered an abusive childhood herself, which she still bore the scars of.;
Regardless, The Guardian writes that when Anna Mae settled with a new romantic partner, she abandoned Kitt. The young girl was sent to live with her Aunt Rosa, and unfortunately, this extended family was no less abusive to her. To “earn her keep,” Kitt was forced to pick cotton for them, even though she was less than seven years old. Around this time, Anna Mae fell ill Kitt later claimed that her mother was probably poisoned and Kitt was brought to her for a final visit, whereupon she watched her die.
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Eartha Kitt: Catwoman Is That Woman
Some women invite obsession. ;There are women who inspire worship from both sexes. ;Well, Im obsessed with Eartha Kitt. ; ;Like a lot of people of my generation, I first became aware of Eartha as the coolest, cat-est, badass-est Catwoman on TVs Batman. ;Bruce Wayne/Batman had such a stick up his ass that even little girls couldnt help but root for the bad guys when they were girls. ;While Julie Newmar knows her way around a leotard, and shes certainly slinky and sexy, something about her just said bratty mean girlwhos willing to kill people and destroy cities and stuff. ;Like the most beautiful girl in school who rolls her eyes when anybody says anything, her genetic superiority arouses her coquettish cruelty. ;On the other hand, Miss Kitt is more fierce than kittenish. ;Julies Catwoman could be an expensive escort but Earthas will gracefully knee you in the groin if you try slipping her a Benjamin. ;
Yes, I looked up to Ms. Kitt as the OG Boss Bitch, but my admiration really grew when I learned about Eartha the real-life hero. ;No less a connoisseur than Orson Welles called her the most exciting woman in the world and she lent her name and fame to important causes, often at a great cost to her career. ;I love Eartha Kitt the performer, but Im especially impressed by her fearless activism.
An example of some of her unique down to Eartha-ness:
Why Was Eartha Kitt Blacklisted
Eartha Kitt was blacklisted after she publicly criticized the Vietnam War at a 1968 White House luncheon in the presence of the first lady, Lady Bird Johnson. Her career in the U.S. went into a severe decline. In the 1970s it began to recover after news surfaced that she had been subjected to U.S. Secret Service surveillance.
Eartha Kitt, in full Eartha Mae Kitt, , American singer and dancer noted for her sultry vocal style and slinky beauty who also achieved success as a dramatic stage and film actress.
Kitt was the daughter of a Cherokee and Black mother and an white father she never knew, and from the age of eight she grew up with relatives in an ethnically diverse section of Harlem, New York City. At 16 she joined Katherine Dunhams dance troupe and toured the United States, Mexico, South America, and Europe. When the Dunham company returned to the United States, the multilingual Kitt stayed in Paris, where she won immediate popularity as a nightclub singer. She made her acting debut as Helen of Troy in Time Runs, an Orson Wellesadaptation of Faust, in 1950. With her appearance in the Broadway revue Leonard Sillmans New Faces of 1952 and with early 1950s recordings such as Cest Si Bon, Santa Baby, and I Want to Be Evil, Kitt became a star.
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Why Was Eartha Kitt Blacklisted At The Height Of Her Catwoman Success
Eartha Kitt was born into some heartbreaking circumstances, yet proved herself as a talented singer, dancer and actress. Long before she was Catwoman on Batman, Kitt was speaking 4 languages and singing in 11! She was known around the world for her unique brand of entertainment and her keen fashion sense. But, when she gave her political views publicly the backlash she faced was something she never dreamed of.
In 1968 Kitt was invited to the White House for the Women Doers Luncheon by Ladybird and President Lindon B. Johnson to give her views on what American women could do to make the country a more peaceful and less violent place. Kitt had been invited to the event based on her celebrity status as well as her work with Rebels with a Cause and other youth-focused groups. She was not there to sing or get an award and so when asked her opinions about the problems of young people and the rise of crime at a press conference she gave her views freely.
In her words: You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. They rebel in the street. They will take potand they will get high. They dont want to go to school because theyre going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.
Eartha Kitt Was Blacklisted By The Cia
In 1968, Eartha Kitt was furious about the messed-up war in Vietnam. So when she was invited to a special White House luncheon held by Lady Bird Johnson, according to The Telegraph, she decided to speak out. While watching white woman after white woman give placid speeches regarding “flower pots on the windowsills of poverty,” according to Vice, Kitt repeatedly raised her hand to speak and was ignored until the end. Finally, she stood atop her chair, faced the 41 polite dinner guests surrounding her, and said, “I have lived in the gutters. That’s why I know what I’m talking about. You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. They rebel in the street. … They don’t want to go to school because they’re going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.”
This speech reportedly caused Lady Bird Johnson to break down in tears, but after Kitt left the White House, the CIA got to work. The agency assembled documents, on the request of the president, full of gossip and hearsay regarding the celebrity, which accused her of being a “sadistic nymphomaniac.” The CIA used this dossier to sling mud at Kitt’s reputation, making it impossible for her to find work.;Venues and contracts were lost. The gossip grew louder. This smear campaign forced her to leave the country, in search of jobs in Europe.;
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Michelle Pfieffer Looks ‘purrfect’ In Role Of Villainess Catwoman
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But the seductive singer and actress died aged 81 as she had lived fighting. She screamed, then suddenly silence. She was gone. The stars death from cancer on Christmas Day, 2008 during the festive season when her best-loved hit song Santa Baby plays constantly worldwide is the dramatic climax of a moving new memoir, Eartha & Kitt, by her daughter. Even as she departed this earth it showed who she was at her core: always fighting, never giving up, says the singers only child, Kitt Shapiro, 59.
Final Years And Death
Throughout her adult life, Kitt had a tremendous work ethic. She kept up a busy work schedule well into her 70s. In 2000, Kitt netted a Tony Award nomination for her work in The Wild Party with Toni Collette. She picked up a Daytime Emmy Award for her vocal performance on the animated children’s series The Emperor’s New School that same year, and again in 2007.
For many years, Kitt performed her cabaret act at New York’s Cafe Carlyle. She continued to wow audiences as she had so many decades before, when she was the toast of Paris. With her voice, charm and sex appeal, Kitt knew how to win over a crowd.
Kitt learned that she had colon cancer in 2006, a disease that ended up taking her life on December 25, 2008.
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Eartha Kitt A Seducer Of Audiences Dies At 81
Eartha Kitt, who purred and pounced her way across Broadway stages, recording studios and movie and television screens in a show-business career that lasted more than six decades, died on Thursday. She was 81 and lived in Connecticut.
The cause was colon cancer, said her longtime publicist, Andrew E. Freedman.
Ms. Kitt, who began performing in the late 40s as a dancer in New York, went on to achieve success and acclaim in a variety of mediums long before other entertainment multitaskers like Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler.
With her curvaceous frame and unabashed vocal come-ons, she was also, along with Lena Horne, among the first widely known African-American sex symbols. Orson Welles famously proclaimed her the most exciting woman alive in the early 50s, apparently just after that excitement prompted him to bite her onstage during a performance of Time Runs, an adaptation of Faust in which Ms. Kitt played Helen of Troy.
Ms. Kitts career-long persona, that of the seen-it-all sybarite, was set when she performed in Paris cabarets in her early 20s, singing songs that became her signatures, like Cest Si Bon and Love for Sale.
Returning to New York, she was cast on Broadway in New Faces of 1952 and added another jewel to her vocal crown, Monotonous . Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times in May 1952, Eartha Kitt not only looks incendiary, but she can make a song burst into flame.
Eartha Kitt Was The Catwoman Of Her Era
Between “Santa Baby” and Broadway, Eartha Kitt’s popularity was a game changer, as she was a black woman who commanded the stage, the radio, and the TV screen whenever she appeared. Of course, one of Kitt’s most immortal roles will forever be that of Catwoman, the famed Batman villain whom she portrayed in the classic Adam West series of the ’60s. Kitt was the third actress to portray the leather-clad femme fatale, but as ComicsVerse argues, she was the Catwoman that mattered most.;
Her portrayal was smart, sleek, and intelligent, electrifying the screen whenever she appeared, and she regularly outsmarted the dynamic duo at every turn. Kitt’s version of Selina Kyle has continued to influence portrayals of the iconic character, and her casting as a woman of color, playing a role traditionally considered white charted the course for the casting of future Catwoman performers like Halle Berry in 2004’s Catwoman, and Zoe Kravitz in 2021’s;The Batman.
As amazing as Kitt’s Catwoman was, though, it’s important to remember that her legacy runs far deeper than that. In her time, as Vice explains, she was a subversive role model when it came to feminism, civil rights, and sex positivity. Looking back, when it comes to these achievements, she can rightfully be considered an icon.
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She Was A Lifelong Advocate For Civil Rights
Eartha Kitt is often remembered for her showbiz work, and while that was her career, her legacy is defined by so much more than that. From early on, Kitt was a big supporter of the Civil Rights movement, and while she and Dr. Martin Luther King weren’t close, they did exchange letters of mutual admiration. She was also connected to Malcolm X,;and though she expressed that they had some ideological differences, they oncecame together to speak;at a rally event put together by Jackie Robinson following a church bombing in 1963. Her last encounter with Malcolm X was the Sunday before his death.
According to the National Visionary Leadership Project, Kitt often used her fame to advocate for social justice causes. During the ’60s, her contracts strictly required that, for any performance she gave, the audience couldn’t be segregated. If she got there and they were, she would send a “bus boy” out to integrate the audience before she went onstage. In later years, according to Black History in America, Kitt fervently championed the cause of LGBTQ+ rights and same-sex marriage.
Catwoman And Controversial Comments
In the late 1960s, Kitt played one of her most famous parts the villainous vixen “Catwoman.” She took over the role, on the TV series Batman, from Julie Newmar. Remarkably, Kitt only played Catwoman on a handful of episodes of the short-lived campy crime show, starring Adam West and Burt Ward, but she made the role her own with her lithe, cat-like frame and her distinctive voice. The series found a second life in reruns, and it remains on the air today.
Known for being blunt and short-tempered at times, Kitt found herself in a media firestorm in 1968. She attended a luncheon on the subject on juvenile delinquency and crime hosted by Lady Bird Johnson at the White House. At the event, Kitt shared her thoughts on the matter, telling the First Lady that “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed,” according to the Washington Post. “No wonder the kids rebel and take pot.” Her remarks against the Vietnam War offended Johnson, and made headlines. Her popularity took a significant hit after that, and she spent several years mostly performing abroad.
In 1978, Kitt enjoyed a career renaissance with her performance on Broadway in Timbuktu!. She earned a Tony Award nomination for her role in the play, and received an invitation to the White House by President Jimmy Carter. In 1984, Kitt returned to the music charts with “Where Is My Man.” She continued to win acclaim for her music, including scoring a Grammy Award nomination for 1994’s Back in Business.
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