Rest in peace Eartha Kitt

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, December 26, 2008 at 10:54 am.

Just like a true diva to go out on the biggest holiday of the year!

On Christmas Day the legendary Eartha Kitt died of colon cancer at 81 years-old.  Born on a cotton plantation in South Carolina, Kitt clawed her way to Hollywood despite the worst case scenarios.  According to her, Kitt was a child conceived by rape and she was never sure of her exact birthday.

Once called “The Tigeress of Stage,” Kitt made her film debut in 1948’s Cabash beginning a professional career that would span over six decades.  Never to be a victim, Kitt triumphantly stood in the face of ferocious racism and sexism.  Nowadays, any performer can be a triple threat — Kitt practically invented the term.

Despite once being booed off stage at the legendary Apollo Theatre, Kitt was a dancer, singer, and actress.  Kitt would become an international megastar with appearances on Broadway, charting on the Billboard charts, and, most famously, integrated Gotham City by playing Catwoman.  Kitt’s portrayal of Catwoman outshined the original (Julie Newmar) and no one since has been able to match — not Michelle Pfeiffer or even Halle Berry.

Of course no one can forget her role as Lady Eloise in 1992’s Boomerang, “Maaaaarcusssss!”

Coupled with her fame, she was an outspoken activist.  Kitt was aggressively against the Vietnam War –  she reportedly made the First Lady Bird Johnson at a White House luncheon in 1968 cry and was famously on President Richard Nixon’s enemies list.  Kitt was notoriously exiled from the United States, forced to only perform overseas — following a tradition of many black artists like Josephine Baker.  Kitt was also a champion for HIV/AIDS research.

Rest in peace Eartha — I am sure she is walking around heaven with Sammy Davis, Jr. (a former ex lover), Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker,  and many others who added a little soul to Hollywood, Broadway, and stages across the world.

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