Sunday, February 13, 2011

Eartha Kitt -- Aquarian

Eartha Kitt was a fascinating person. Most people know her as the sexy singer of "Santa Baby," but she was a dancer and actress as well.

According to sources, Kitt was born in South Carolina and her parents of mixed racial heritage, with her mother being Cherokee and African-American and her father German. She was raised by a woman she thought was her biologival mother, but it wasn't until she was 8 that she actually met her mother (or the woman she thought was her mother) in New York City. Prior to and after that, Kitt was abused; first by her South Carolina family for being "too white" and then by her mother. She ran away, began living off and on in subways, and finally--on a dare--auditioned for the Katharine Dunham Dance Company. She was accepted, and worked with the troupe for 5 years. In the 1940s, from about age 18 to 25 she appeared on Broadway and started her cabaret act, which she took to Paris.

Kitt sang in seven languages, although she is best known for her songs in French and English.

In the 1950s, she worked in films, especially for Orson Welles, who was reputedly her lover. In the 1960s, she added TV work to her career, most specifically as Catwoman in the third seaon of Batman. A different and sexier Catwoman.

In 1968 at a lunch at the White House, she clearly stated anti-war sentiments to Lady Bird Johnson, expressing sympathy for mothers who lost their sons and daughters in Viet Nam, as well as a definite statement that the protestors were onto something. Lady Bird burst into tears, and Kitt became persona non grata in the US for a while. She went on tour outside the country.

In the 1980s she returned to the US and nightclubs, finding popularity among gay male audiences. She also started to work for HIV/AIDS awareness and funding. In the last two decades of her life, she did voiceovers, TV roles, Broadway, cabarets, and film. She advocated gay marriage and gay rights.

As I said, Kitt was a remarkable and fascinating woman. Though most people only know her as a sex kitten-type who sang sultry songs, clearly she was a woman of character and intelligence, with a will of iron and a backbone of steel.

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful, talented, and enigmatic woman who led an amazing life. Plenty of felines to follow in her steps.


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