Friday, September 29, 2006

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

Eartha Kitt, her daughter Kitt and granddaughter Rachel

Eartha Kitt and daughter Kitt on The Merv Griffith Show

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

This week we feature Eartha Kitt!

Eartha Mae Kitt was ostracized at an early age because of her mixed-race heritage (she was the out-of-wedlock daughter of a white dirt farmer and a black Cherokee mother, as would have to be the case given the laws regarding miscegenation at the time). At eight years old, she was given away by her mother and sent from the South Carolina cotton fields to live with an aunt in Harlem.

In New York, her distinct individuality and flair for show business manifested itself, and on a friend’s dare, the shy teen auditioned for the famed Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe. She won a spot as a featured dancer and vocalist before the age of twenty and toured worldwide with the company. During a performance in Paris, Miss Kitt was spotted by a nightclub owner and booked as a featured singer at his club. Her unique persona earned her fans and fame quickly, including Orson Welles, who called her "the most exciting woman in the world." Welles was so taken with her talent that he cast her as Helen of Troy in his fabled production of Dr. Faust.

In 1967, Miss Kitt left her indelible mark as the infamous Catwoman in the television series, Batman. She immediately became synonymous with the role and her trademark growl became a part of pop culture. Thanks to the popularity of the series, Miss Kitt can still be seen as the famous villain on TV LAND and cable re-broadcasts.

Singing in ten different languages, Miss Kitt has performed in over 100 countries and was honored with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. In 1966, she was nominated for an Emmy for her role in the series, I SPY.

In 1968, Miss Kitt’s career took a sudden turn when, at a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson, she spoke out against the Vietnam War. For many years afterward, she was blacklisted by many in the U.S. entertainment industry and was forced to work abroad where her status remained undiminished. (Sidenote: The statements were so negative that Lady Bird Johnson began to weep uncontrollably.)

In 1974, she returned to the United States, professionally, in an acclaimed Carnegie Hall concert and, in 1978, received her second Tony nomination for her starring role in the musical Timbuktu.

In 1984, she returned to hit music with a disco song, "Where Is My Man"; the first certified Gold record of her career. Her 1989 follow-up hit "Cha-Cha Heels" (featuring Bronski Beat) received a positive reponse from UK dance clubs and reached #32 on the pop charts.

In 2000, Kitt again returned to Broadway in the short but notable run of the revival of the 1920s-themed, The Wild Party, opposite Mandy Patinkin and Toni Collette. In 2003, she replaced Chita Rivera in Nine. In the late 1990's she appeared as the Wicked Witch of the West in the North American national touring company of The Wizard of Oz.

One of her more unusual roles was as Kaa the python in a 1994 BBC Radio adaptation of The Jungle Book. Kitt lent her distinctive voice to the role of Yzma in Disney's The Emperor's New Groove and returned to the role in the straight to video sequel Kronk's New Groove and the spin-off TV series The Emperor's New School. She is currently doing other voiceover work such as the voice of Queen Vexus on the animated TV series My Life as a Teenage Robot.

In recent years, Kitt's annual appearances in New York have made her a fixture of the Manhattan cabaret scene. She takes the stage at venues such as The Ballroom and, more recently, the Café Carlyle to explore and define her highly stylized image, alternating between signature songs , which emphasize a witty, mercenary world-weariness, and less familiar repertoire, much of which she performs with an unexpected ferocity and bite that present her as a survivor with a seemingly bottomless reservoir of resilience.

Source: Eartha Kitt official website - biography page
Source: Eartha Kitt Wikipedia Page
Source: Eartha Kitt's page at

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