Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt Dies

Y'all know how much I love Eartha Kitt. I was saddened to find out she died today of colon cancer at 81.

She went from being an ostracized mixed race girl from South Carolina to an internationally loved star garnering multiple nominations for Tonys, Grammys and Oscars. And don't forget that famous cat purr.

She was sent at age 8 to by her mother to live with her aunt in Harlem and auditioned for the famed Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe during her teens. She was hired as a featured dancer and vocalist and toured worldwide with the company for several years.

The stint with the Katherine Dunham Dance troupe launched Kitt into a life of roles in the entertainment field. She was a well liked cabaret singer in Europe during the 50's and performed on Broadway. That lead to a recording deal in which she produced 20 albums and acted in hundreds of movie and television roles.

In 1968, however, Kitt encountered a substantial professional setback after she made anti-war statements during a White House luncheon that reportedly made then First Lady Lady Bird Johnson cry. The resulting positive and negative public reactions to Kitt's statements was much more extreme and resulted in professional exile in the United States.

After enduring the professional ostracism by performing in Europe, once the anger faded over the Vietnam War remarks, she returned to US shores and garnered a new generation of fans that ensured she was performing almost until the end of her remarkable life.

She recently finished taping a PBS special six weeks ago in Chicago which is set to air in February. Her recording of one of my favorite Christmas songs, "Santa Baby" was certified gold last week.

Kitt was well known for her distinctive voice and made a name for herself in her portrayal of Catwoman in the television series "Batman." That role produced Kitt's recognizable sultry cat growl.



She worked in film, theater, cabaret, music and on television during her lengthy career.

Heaven just became a little more PURRRRRfect and we have just lost another iconic singer. Rest in peace, Eartha. You've earned it.

8 comments:

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey there Monica!

I hope that you have had a wonderful Christmas and that things just keep on getting better and better!!

Thanks so much for your tribute to Eartha Kitt!

At least she is no longer in pain from her battle with cancer. Cancer is very painful to endure and she is now at peace.

She was a remarkable woman who truly had the longevity that the Beyonces of this world can only HOPE to have.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

Jackie said...

Eartha Kitt was on TV a lot when I was a kid. She was someone we called around to tell everybody when she was on any show. She was what we mean when we say "Star".
Great pictures, Monica.

genevieve said...

I saw Eartha Kitt on Braodway in in the musical 'Ain't Misbehavin''in 1979. She was the star of the show. She was genuinely a 'star' without the star attitude. A rare jewel you'll never see the likes of again.

Monica Roberts said...

It's ironic and somewhat fitting that she died on Christmas day, seeing the popularity of 'Santa Baby'.

It's also cool that the record was just certified gold.

Laverne said...

Eartha is one of my idols and I cried watching the news report of her death yesterday. They don't make em like her anymore. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to see her live a few years ago here in New York. She was every bit as sexy and vivacious then in her late 70's. She's a model for women everywhere. We're all better because she lived.

Monica Roberts said...

Laverne,
You're right about that. The nouveau divas could learn a few things from observing her life.

Monica Roberts said...

Lisa,
Yes, you're right sis in that Eartha is no longer suffering.

She's earned her rest.

eileen said...

Awesome tribute Monica.

RIP Eartha Kitt.