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Fresh Black Girls: Eartha Kitt!

26 December 2008 4 Comments

If not for my chronic procrastination and Eartha Kitt’s obvious status as a Fresh Black Girl, I would have honored her well before her passing on Christmas Day at the age of 81. She’s always been one of my favorite entertainers because she seriously resembles my grandmother, whose non-celebrity freshness knows no bounds. But it’s particularly fitting that I never felt pressed to mention how much we should all kind of want to be like Eartha, considering she was hotter as a senior citizen than most of us were during our early twenties, and easily has more talent in one of her sizzling gams than say, Beyonce, has in her entire Master Cleansed body. Not to slight the young ladies of today, but none of them do it like Eartha Kitt. Her unique voice and overwhelming charisma let her cut a path through the entertainment world that few will ever be able to follow. This is a woman who was born on a plantation in South Carolina, went on to be one of the first black women on television through her role as Catwoman in Batman, and didn’t stop commanding audiences for her singing and stagework until the day she died. She even had a famous altercation with the Johnson administration, speaking out against the Vietnam war during a White House luncheon, back-talk that promptly earned her a spot on the Hollywood blacklist. Miss Kitt was bad, and her’s is a fantastic black American story.

Coincidentally, I caught her guest starring on a 1995 episode of Living Single playing a character similar to the frightening seductress Lady Eloise in 1992’s Boomerang. Can you imagine knowing that you’re inherently more fly than Robin Givens, yet still playing the role of an older woman on the prowl? Am I weird for incessantly repeating “Maaaah-cus Dahhhling” whenever I rock my mother’s mink stole? Check out this clip to remind yourself how it’s supposed to be done:


  • jazzfan360 said:

    I am SO sad. One of our greatest entertainers. She lived a truly extraordinary life. Came from absolutely nothing, traveled the whole world, went everywhere, met everybody, did everything, had a million different comebacks even though she never really went away, and had a million amazing stories to tell. She always spoke the truth at any cost–sometimes paying a very high price–and lived full-tilt without falling into addiction or psychological hangups or any of the nasty trappings of fame that befell some of her contemporaries. And, she outlived them all–one of the very last great entertainers of the Golden Age, and even with colon cancer, she performed almost to the very end. Lightning charisma. Rapier wit. Endless sex appeal. A voice seemingly unchanged by the decades. And–of course–that growl.

    -My favorite Eartha Kitt moment, slingin’ some low-down blues singing “Chantez-les Bas” to Nat ‘King’ Cole in St. Louis Blues, one of the hallmarks of Early Black Cinema
    -A sensational benefit performance of “Love For Sale” from recent years–she works that crowd like a pro, and they’re eating out of her hand
    -A ’62 performance of one of her signature songs, “I Want to Be Evil”
    Performing it again, fabulously, some twenty years later for President Reagan…fun to see how her experience and evolved style change the delivery

    There’s a GREAT remembrance article at The Washington Post.

    Man. A real legend. Of course she would go and die on Christmas, with her biggest song playing all over the world; she never did anything halfway.


  • Bonnie said:

    The old Batman and Robin series was one of my favorites and she was my favorite Catwoman on the show. To this day, my sister and I imitate her “I don’t have on any panties” line and it still cracks us up! RIP, Ms. Kitt, you were truly one of a kind…

  • pjazzypar said:

    A Diva until the end! If you ever get a chance to see the old film “St. Louis Blues” don’t pass it up. She plays Ruby Dee’s nemesis to perfection.

  • Regina said:

    She will certainly be missed! She was very unique!

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