Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In Memoriam: Eartha Kitt

by Pa Rock

Eartha Kitt, described by one writer as “a biracial child born out of wedlock in 1927 small-town South Carolina” overcame the circumstances of her birth and went on to become a truly legendary singer and actress. She died of colon cancer at her home in Connecticut on Christmas Day.

Ms. Kitt became a professional dancer with the famous Martha Graham troupe at the tender age of sixteen. She went on to achieve wide acclaim as a jazz singer and film personality. Kitt’s sultry vocal rendition of Santa Baby has long been a musical staple of the Christmas season, and during the 1960’s the petite actress became a national icon with her regular portrayal of “Catwoman” on the television series, Batman.

My clearest memory of Earth Kitt, however, is political. In 1968 she was invited to a conference at the White House that was sponsored by Lady Bird Johnson, then mistress of the palace. The conference was focused on the views of women of achievement, and Ms. Kitt was not intimidated by the setting, the other attendees, or the hostess. When the opportunity arose she cut loose on the First Lady with her views on the Vietnam War, leaving the inimitable Mrs. Johnson in tears. The press ate it up!

In the parlance of the times, Eartha Kitt had come a long way, baby!

(Note: Eartha Kitt was on my Dead Pool list for 2008. 19 points.)

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