Thursday, December 25, 2008

R.I.P. Eartha Kitt 1927-2008

Christmas must be the day icons decide to leave us. First James Brown in 2006 and now Eartha Kitt, the legendary singer, dancer and actress, who died today at 81 of cancer. Most remember Kitt as Catwoman from the Batman series in the 60's, but she was much more that than that.

Born in South Carolina to a black and Cherokee mother and a white father, Kitt was sent to stay with relatives because her step father refused to take in a mixed race child. After moving to New York and briefly attending the High School of Performing Arts, she worked a series of odd jobs before becoming a part of the Katherine Dunham dance troupe. While dancing and singing in clubs around the world during the 1950s, she learned to sing in 12 languages, including French, Turkish and Spanish.
However Kitt could also be controversial. During a visit to the White House for a luncheon hosted by Ladybird Johnson in 1968, she bluntly told the First Lady and those present, "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."

Because of her anti-war stance, Kitt primarily performed overseas for four years and was investigated by the FBI and the CIA, but eventually reappeared on Broadway plays such as "Timbuktu," "Cinderella," and "The Wild Party," and continued to release music, earning her Tony and Grammy nominations.

And of course who (especially not anyone in our generation) could forget her seducing Eddie Murphy in "Boomerang." Classic. Not to mention that Ms. Kitt maintained a fierce figure well into her eighties.

Eartha had an undeniable impact and influence on entertainment and paved the way for the black female artists of today. Diana Ross--who was heavily influenced by Eartha, which is easily seen in early Supremes performances-- Donna Summer, Janet, Beyonce, all of them owe their careers to Ms. Kitt. Rest in peace Eartha.


Get into the clips below:












1 comment:

ToddyEnglish said...

I am so devastated by this. This is actually the first I've heard of it!

Rest In Peace Miss Kitt(y)...

I'll be tributing her as well! It is a must.

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