Eartha Kitt: Actress, Singer, Dancer, Comedian, and Civil Rights Activist

Eartha-kitt

Young Eartha

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Eartha KittCOLLAGE

Born: Eartha Mae Keith on January 17, 1927 in the small town of North, in Orangeburg County, South Carolina

Parents: Cherokee Indian/African Descent (mother) Unknown white man (father)

Siblings: 0

Spouse(s): John William McDonald (married June 6, 1960, divorced 1965)

Eartha and Husband
Eartha and Husband, William

Children: Kitt McDonald-Shapiro

Eartha and Daughter, Kitt
Eartha and Daughter, Kitt

Grandchildren: John Shapiro and Rachael Shapiro

Education: High School of Performing Arts, New York City, New York

Occupation: Actress, singer, cabaret star, dancer, stand-up comedienne, civil rights activist, voice artist and writer

Accomplishments, Achievements, and Contributions:

From Bio.com:  Kitt became a rising star with her appearance in the Broadway review New Faces of 1952. In the production, she sang “Monotonous.” Her performance helped launch her music career with the release of her first album in 1954. The recording featured such signature songs as “I Want To Be Evil” and “C’est Si Bon,” as well as the perennially holiday classic “Santa Baby.”

On the big screen, Kitt starred opposite Nat “King” Cole in the W. C. Handy biopic St. Louis Blues (1958). She netted her one and only Academy Award nomination the following year, for her role as the title character in Anna Lucasta. In the film, Kitt plays a sassy young woman who is forced to use her womanly wiles to survive. She stars opposite Sammy Davis Jr.

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.

From Wikipedia: Kitt was active in numerous social causes in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966, she established the Kittsville Youth Foundation, a chartered and non-profit organization for underprivileged youth in the Watts area of Los Angeles.[21] She was also involved with a group of youth in the area of Anacostia in Washington, D.C., who called themselves, “Rebels with a Cause.” Kitt supported the group’s efforts to clean up streets and establish recreation areas in an effort to keep them out of trouble by testifying with them before the House General Subcommittee on Education of the Committee on Education and Labor. In her testimony, in May 1967, Kitt stated that the Rebels’ “achievements and accomplishments should certainly make the adult ‘do-gooders’ realize that these young men and women have performed in 1 short year – with limited finances – that which was not achieved by the same people who might object to turning over some of the duties of planning, rehabilitation, and prevention of juvenile delinquents and juvenile delinquency to those who understand it and are living it”. She added that “the Rebels could act as a model for all urban areas throughout the United States with similar problems”.[22]“Rebels with a Cause” subsequently received the needed funding.[23]

Kitt was also a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, thus her criticism of the Vietnam War and its connection to poverty and racial unrest in 1968 can be seen as part of a larger commitment to peace activism.[24]

Like many politically active public figures of her time, Kitt was under surveillance by the CIA, beginning in 1956. After the New York Times discovered the CIA file on Kitt in 1975, she granted the paper permission to print portions of the report, stating: “I have nothing to be afraid of and I have nothing to hide.”[25]

Eartha as Catwoman
           Eartha as Catwoman

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Quotes about or By Eartha:

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“She’s The Most Exciting Woman In The World” -Orsen Welles on Eartha Kitt

Awards/Honors:

Two Emmys for her voice role as Yzma, in the animated series, The Emperor’s New Clothes  (2006-08). In 2010, she won a third Emmy posthumously for The Wonder Pets, another children’s animated series that airs on Nick Jr.

Death: December 25, 2008 in Weston, Connecticut of colon cancer

I Salute this AMAZING HER-story making sista!

Sources:

Bio.com

Wikipedia

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5 thoughts on “Eartha Kitt: Actress, Singer, Dancer, Comedian, and Civil Rights Activist

    1. Yaaas! One of my favorite films, she could play the part of a sex kitten and she did it well too, lol! I love her catwoman growl, she was the best at it! The best catwoman ever!

      Liked by 2 people

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