In the middle of my Christmas Day Movie Marathon, I must take pause to remember one of the most fierce women to have ever graced the screen and stage, Ms. Eartha May Kitt. Ms. Kitt lost her battle with colon cancer today at the age of 81. In thinking of things I want to say for this blog relating to Ms. Kitt, one word continually comes to mind – glamorous. She is the epitome of glamorous.
Ms. Kitt is most well known for her portrayal of the Catwoman in the Batman series in the late 60s. Her tight suit and purring voice could make even the strongest man a little weak in the knees.
She was born January 17, 1927 in South Carolina. To read her bio, you will find that her father was a white man that she never knew and that her mother, a black cotton picker gave her up when she was three. Her aunt in Harlem took her in when she was eight. She was able to secure a place with the Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe. It was the start to a fabulous career in entertainment.
Her decades-long career saw her as an actress on both stage and screen and as a renowned singer. However, there was a ten year gap in her performances after she was blacklisted for speaking at a presidential luncheon regarding the effects of the Vietnam war on poor minorities. According to her biography, “An infuriated Johnson put out the word that Kitt’s rudeness had reduced the First Lady to tears, and Kitt found herself essentially blacklisted across the country — afraid of incurring the government’s wrath, venues simply refused to book her. It was later revealed that Kitt was made the subject of a secret federal investigation; her house was bugged and she was tailed by Secret Service agents. When the FBI failed to find evidence that Kitt was a subversive, the CIA compiled a highly speculative dossier that attempted to portray her as a nymphomaniac. Unable to find work in America, Kitt moved to Europe, where she would spend most of the following decade. In 1974, she courted controversy once again by touring South Africa; although she performed for white-only audiences, her show was racially integrated, and she raised money for black schools by selling autographs.”
She returned to performing late in the 70s and was always a sensation on the Cabaret scene in New York.
If you have never heard her sing, pick up an album. If you have never seen her on screen, find one of the 1968 episodes of Batman. Whatever you do, become familiar with this sultry seductress. You will be happy that you did.
Thank you Ms. Kitt for all that you have offered us, you will be sorely missed.
Categories: Theater - Literature - Language