Friday, December 26, 2008

Farewell, Eartha "Catwoman" Kitt....

The sultry singer, dancer and actress Eartha Kitt, whose shamelessly materialistic "Santa Baby" (1953) trumped "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" by adding a velvet-throated streak of holiday dyspepsia, died on Christmas day, aged 81.

Born in South Carolina in 1927, Kitt escaped a grim childhood to join the pioneering Katherine Dunham Company, which showcased the talents of African American dancers, musicians and choreographers at a time when they were generally relegated to small, stereotyped comic roles.

Kitt's carefully crafted persona — sexy, sophisticated and devestatingly self-aware &madash; played equally well on Broadway and in cabarets, on TV and records and in movies. In 1967 she took over the role of Catwoman in TV's Batman after Julie Newmar left the show, and seduced a generation of comic book fans.

Throughout her life and career, Kitt defied racism, sexism and ageism to exactly as she wanted. She embraced the role of sex kittne, but never hid her formidable intelligence or well-thought out political opinions, even when she paid the price: Her opposition to the Vietnam War relegated her work in Europe and put her on the FBI's radar.

Eartha Kitt was a true diva, not a spoiled, sulky little girl; she built herself from the ground up and earned everything that ever came to her.

She will be sorely missed.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Unfortunately I only knew her as Catwoman III on the 1960s Batman series, but even that made a lasting impression. There's a quote from a Simpsons episode guest starring Adam West that for him Catwoman will always be Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether and/or Eartha Kitt. It's meant as a joke, but truer words were never spoken and I don't think any actress (sorry Nolan) will beat that triumverate.