Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt has died:

Eartha Kitt, the versatile US singer and actress whose sultry voice and sensuality made her an international star with a career spanning six decades, died Thursday at age 81, her friend and publicist said.

Kitt, who won two Emmy television awards and was nominated for two Tony awards and two Grammy awards, died at 2:15 pm (1915 GMT) of colon cancer, Andrew Freedman told AFP. She was being treated at New York Presbyterian Hospital and resided in the state of Connecticut.

"She was certainly a legendary performer and while I think there may have been many imitations, she was an original," Freedman said. She was one of the few artists who have been nominated for Tony, Grammy and Emmy awards.

"I Want to Be Evil" and "Santa Baby," still a Christmas favorite today, were among her best-selling songs.

A self-described "sex kitten," Kitt famously played the role of Catwoman in the US hit TV series "Batman" in the 1960s. Her catlike purr and uncanny persona won her many fans, among them Orson Welles, who called her "the most exciting woman in the world."

She acted in movies as well, starring with Nat King Cole in "St. Louis Blues" (1958).

Kitt rose to fame from humble origins as a mixed-race child who grew up in South Carolina's cotton fields.

She was blacklisted in the US during the late 1960s after she spoke out against the Vietnam war during a luncheon at the White House. She worked abroad for years until her triumphant return to Broadway in 1974. She received her second Tony nomination in 1978 for her role in the musical "Timbuktu."

In December 2006, she returned to the White House to light the National Christmas Tree, standing beside President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

Singing in 10 different languages, Kitt performed in over 100 countries.

She launched her career as a dancer in Paris with the famed Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe. Before she had hit the age of 20, she had already toured the world with the company as a dancer and vocalist.

"Paris was one of her great loves," Freedman said. "One of her first big hits was 'La Vie en Rose,'" the Edith Piaf original.

"Since that period in the early 40s and 50s, Europe has always held a special place in her heart, particularly Paris."



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