Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt: A Hollywood Blogger Reflects

There have been so many deaths of our favorite entertainers this year that I told myself I would not write another post concerning them. And then a dear friend informed me a matter of hours ago that Eartha Kitt had died of colon cancer at the age of 81. Associate Press and CNN confirmed it minutes later.

That said, I would be remiss if I didn't post a word or 200 about the life and career of singer, actress, Earth Kitt--a remarkable career that spanned 60 years.



Born on a cotton plantation in South Carolina in 1927, Eartha Kitt began her career as a member of Katherine Dunham's Dance Company. And as a member of the famed dance company she made her film debut in 1948 in "Casbah."
But most of us remember Kitt best as Catwoman. Replacing Julie Newmar on the last season of "Batman" in the mid 60s, Kitt took the role and made it her own. You can't think of Eartha Kitt and not roll your r's when you speak. Her distinctive voice will always be remembered. Released 1953, "Santa Baby" is still her biggest musical hit and is in heavy rotation every holiday season.

Then in 1968, nearing the height of her career, President Johnson blacklisted the petite performer in the US because allegedly her anti-war comments said at a Presidential luncheon made the first lady cry. But that didn't stop her. Kitt still made a name for herself in Europe. Then a decade later, a successful run in Broadway musical "Timbuktu" brought her back to the states in 1978.

I've known most of this since I was kid, but I just learned during my internet research, Kitt had a huge disco following in the early 80s thanks to 1984's hit, "Where Is My Man?"which made it to the top 10 of the Billboard charts and '89 follow-up, "Cha Cha Heels" was a European club favorite and made it to #32 on the UK charts. And of course, old reliable--YouTube--had a performance just waiting to be posted. Based on what I saw in this video and recent performances, Eartha Kitt had an ageless vitality, a certain savior faire, that remained with her until the end.



Personally, I will always remember Eartha Kitt best as Madame Eloise from "Boomerang," the sexy, AARP card carrying cosmetic company founder. "Marrrrcus! I don't have any panties on!" still makes me laugh when I think about it. Really, you can't talk about that classic film and not mention Lady Eloise.

So thanks to her work and contributions left behind, Eartha Kitt will never be forgotten. And as I take a moment to discover more interesting tidbits about her life, I'm willing to bet that someone in Hollywood is writing the screenplay based on interesting her life story. And if no one isn't, they should be. Why not me, you ask? Because, I'd rather help produce it!

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