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Eartha Kitt

Born on a cotton plantation in South Carolina, Eartha Kitt learned early to overcome the problems brought on by poverty, prejudice, and familial indifference. After being given away by her mother in the South, she went to live with an aunt in Harlem at the age of eight. It was in New York that she manifested her distinct individuality and flair for show business.

At the urging of a friend, the young Kitt auditioned for and was awarded a position as a featured dancer and vocalist with the famed Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe. While performing in Paris with the troupe, Kitt was spotted by a nightclub owner who enthusiastically signed her for her first cabaret performance. This led to one admirer, Orson Welles, casting her to star by his side as Helen of Troy in his production of Dr. Faust in Paris. There, Welles called her the most exciting woman in the world.

Kitt's return to America led to starring roles on Broadway. She appeared in New Faces of 1952 on Broadway, where her performance of Monotonous stopped the show for a year and became legendary. Kitt was soon recording such hits as Love For Sale, St. Louis Blues, the Grammy-nominated Folk Tales of the Tribes of Africa, and favorites C'est Si Bon and Santa Baby. Back on Broadway, Kitt's resume includes such varied work as Shinbone Alley, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Owl and the Pussycat, and Tony-nominated turns in the dramatic play Mrs. Patterson and the musical Timbuktu.

Kitt's television work is no less extensive, ranging from her Emmy-nominated work on I Spy to her unforgettable performance as Catwoman on the television series Batman. She has made appearances on The Nanny, Living Single, and New York Undercover, and will be seen in an upcoming episode of HBO's Oz.

Kitt received her third Tony nomination in 2000 for her performance in the acclaimed Broadway show The Wild Party. She was nominated for her second Grammy in 1996 for her Back in Business album. Her recent film credits include Boomerang with Eddie Murphy, Fatal Instinct, Harriet the Spy with Rosie O'Donnell, and the documentary Unzipped. She toured in Madison Square Garden's The Wizard of Oz, in which she played The Wicked Witch of the West, and completed a 12-week engagement at New York's Café Carlyle. Currently, Kitt is playing the Fairy Godmother in a national tour of Cinderella.

Kitt published her first autobiography, Thursday's Child, in 1954. This subsequently led to two more volumes, Alone with Me (1976) and I'm Still Here: Confessions of a Sex Kitten (1989). She is currently working on a fourth book, REJUVENATE! It's Never Too Late. She lives in New York.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

Eartha Kitt Facts

Birth NameEartha May Kitt
BirthdayJanuary 17, 1927
BirthplaceNorth, South Carolina, USA
Date of deathDecember 25, 2008 (age 81)
Height5' 4" (1m63)  How tall is Eartha Kitt compared to you?

Selected Filmography

The Emperor's New Groove
Kronk's New Groove
Everything Ernest
The Jungle Book Mowgli's Story
The Feast of All Saints
Erik the Viking
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