Eartha Kitt (born Eartha Mae Keith, 1927 – 2008, American)

Eartha Kitt and Black Cat 3Eartha Kitt (born Eartha Mae Keith, 1927 – 2008, American) was the quintessential cat woman. Most famously known for her part in the 1960’s series Batman as the character Cat Woman her love of cats was not just on the screen but in real life. Throughout her life, her cold hard vamp persona made her the ideal cat who remained independent and aloof.

Born in South Carolina on a cotton plantation to a black-American Indian mother and a white father (whose identity she never discovered) Kitt had a difficult time, as she was constantly teased for her light skin color. After being sent to live with different relatives, Kitt finally landed in Harlem, NYC and attended the now High School of Performing Arts. Kitt joined the Katharine Dunham Company in 1943, remaining with them until 1948.

 

Eartha Kitt as Cat Woman with Orange Cat 1967

 

Eartha Kitt as Cat Woman with Orange Cat Star

Kitt was a talented singer with a distinctive voice. Her hits included C’est si bon and Santa Baby and many others.

 

However, in 1968 her career in the United States came to an abrupt halt owing to remarks she made at a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson. At the luncheon Kitt remarked that “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot.” Her remarks caused Lady Bird to burst into tears. Kitt then found herself unemployable as she had been blacklisted, and a CIA investigation was opened. The CIA dossier was discovered by Seymour Hersh in 1975 and revealed the CIA’s comment that Kitt was a “sadistic nymphomanic”. For the next decade Kitt performed in Europe to wide acclaim. And in 1978, she made her come back in the US in the musical Timbuktu for which she received a Tony Award.

In 1984, she released the disco song, Where is My Man which reached the Top 40 in the UK.


Kitt died of colon cancer on Christmas Day at her home in Connecticut with her daughter by her side. Kitt described her approach to performing by saying: “I do not have an act. I just do Eartha Kitt … I want to be whoever Eartha Kitt is until the gods take me wherever they take me.”

Eartha Kitt and Black Cat

 

Eartha Kitt and Two Black Kittens

 

Eartha Kitt and two kittens

 

Eartha Kitt and Ms. Mildred

 

Want to know more about the cat in history, art and literature? Then Revered and Reviled is the book for you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.

 

Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 Laura Vocelle

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