Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa Baby..Musical Legend Eartha Kitt Passes Away

Jazz legend and Entertainment Icon, Eartha Kitt, passed away today at age 81. This incredible performer will truly be missed. I am grateful that I had a chance to watch her perform about ten years ago. At 70 years old, she was a show stopper, and incredibly engaging and alluring. Ms. Kitt had personality and talent to spare. It's interesting that the artist who is perhaps best known for the song 'Santa Baby' left us on Christmas.

Here is her obituary from BBCNews
Once described by Orson Welles as the most exciting woman in the world, Kitt's smouldering, feline drawl in memorable hits, such as Santa Baby, Old Fashioned Millionaire and I Wanna Be Evil conveyed a wealth of innuendo.
Ostracized at an early age for her mixed race heritage, international star Eartha Kitt defied criticism of her illegitimate past and conquered the entertainment world with finesse.
Born in 1927, she endured a tough childhood. Kitt's mother, who worked on a cotton plantation, was just 14 when she gave birth, the white father thought to have been the son of the plantation owner.
Kitt's features, neither black nor white, led to her being accepted by neither community. She was given away by her mother at the age of eight to live with an aunt in Harlem, New York City. Little did she know that this would be the start of a long showbiz career.
With a flair for the dramatic, Kitt, aged 15, auditioned for the famed Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe and won a spot as a featured dancer.
The work took her worldwide, and her unique style was enhanced as she became fluent in French during the European tour. It was during a performance in Paris that she caught a certain director's eye, and was cast as Helen of Troy in Orson Welles' production of Dr Faust.
Kitt made her name back in New York in the 'New Faces of 1952' revue. Her show-stopping performances, which ran for a year, led to a national tour and a follow up feature film with the same title.
Other films followed, such as St Louis Blues with Nat King Cole, and she played the title role in Anna Lucasta alongside Sammy Davis.
For her succession of best-selling records Kitt earned a Grammy nomination, she received her first Tony nomination for her acting, and also managed to complete her first volume of autobiography Thursday's Child.
One of Kitt's more recognisable roles was her part as Catwoman, in succession to Julie Newmar, in the late 1960s television series Batman. She excelled in the part, and her trademark growl became a part of pop culture.
In the late sixties, however, Kitt's career encountered a substantial setback after she made her anti-Vietnam war views explicit during a White House luncheon.
The CIA put together a dossier on her and she became professionally exiled from the US. She worked abroad for 11 years, where her reputation remained unscathed, but returned triumphantly to New York in 1974 to star in a Broadway spectacle of Timbuktu!
One-woman show
Kitt became a firm fixture on the Manhattan cabaret scene. Live theatre was always her passion and, in 2001, Broadway critics singled her out for praise for her role in The Wild Party.
More recently, she starred in US tours of The Wizard of Oz, and Cinderella, and appeared as the Fairy Godmother in The New York City Opera production.
Her distinctive voice and great versatility enthralled an entirely new generation of fans when she lent her services to the role of Yzma, the villain, in Disney's animated feature The Emperor's New Groove.
In 1994 she also was part of BBC Radio's adaptation of The Jungle Book, where her role as Kaa the python was performed with a ferocity and bite.
She visited England many times throughout her career, firstly in the early 1950s and, most recently, for Follies in 1988, which she followed with a one-woman show in March 1989.
Eartha Kitt will be remembered as a distinguished and charismatic performer who, up to her death, could boast she had worked in more than 100 countries.
Alongside her cabaret performances, her singing career and her roles in film and television, Kitt was also a prominent jazz singer to which the "sex kitten" in her voice seemed aptly suited.
She appeared at legendary venues, such as The Cafe Carlyle, Detroit's Music Hall and Seattle's Jazz Alley, where she became the epitome of chic. Her strong onscreen independence was mirrored off screen, since Kitt spent most of her life alone.
She was married briefly, from 1960 to 1965, from which a daughter, Kitt McDonald, was born in 1961. She became her mother's manager.
Up to the end of her life, Eartha Kitt was the national spokeswoman for Project On Growing, a programme which teaches homeless families to grow their own food and feed themselves.
Enjoy 'Santa Baby', video courtesy of YouTube


Anonymous said...

tu restera une légende

E.B. Weston said...

My heart broke when I read that my name sake had passed. She truly was the original sexy kitten.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to see Eartha live in London in both Feb 2007 and April 2008 - just 8 months before she died. She was so vital and alive and a truly amazing performer. The world truly is a duller place without her. She was the last in a dying breed.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Eartha Mae Kitt, a true Legend. She was really a kitten who knew how to strut her stuff. She will be missed and can NEVER EVER EVER in this lifetime or any other be replaced by another with her talent. I will remember her family, Knowing how much they hurt at the loss of such a wonderful person, I lost my Mama in October 2008 and know how they feel. Now that little kitten has a pair of golden wings. Rest in Peace Miss Kitt.

Anonymous said...

merci eartha,j'ai aimé la musique afro-américaine grace à vous,si votre corp est,votre ame restera etternellement pleure votre départ.

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