Saturday, December 27, 2008

Eartha Kitt (1927-2008) - So Much More Than A Gay Icon

Of Cherokee, African-American, Dutch and German descent and famously described by Orson Wells as 'the most exciting woman in the world', Eartha Kitt began her career as a dancer with the Katherine Dunham Company in the 1940's.

And then took a turn into singing ...

'Just An Old-Fashioned Girl' (1962)

... and acting (movies and television [Catwoman in the 'Batman' series]) ...

... and Broadway and ... and ... and ... .

A bit of a Leonardo da Vinci of entertainment, Eartha Kitt was also politically aware and an implacable activist. I remember seeing her as a kid in London where she stopped the show to vituperatively tirade the audience - I was too young to be aware of the particular issue - just the intensity and conviction.

This activism later extended to participating in benefits for HIV/AIDS ...

'Love for Sale'

Eartha Kitt was one of the first to put real hot-blooded raunchy real sex back into open and public consideration - the subject having taken a big big nose-dive after the 'roaring twenties'. Though constructing it to an extent in conventional terms to buy wider acceptablity.

Her later work was somewhat self-parody but there was always a sense of this even in the early performances. Again her strategy to be more palatable in conservative times.

Eartha Kitt was big fearless person ... and knew what she was about.

She should be truly missed!


  1. And protest she did: at a luncheon hosted by then First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, Eartha Kitt got up and blasted the administration over the Vietnam war. It had a negative effect on Kitt's career, at least for a little while, though as public sentiment grew against the war, she became something of a heroic figure for taking the protest right into the White House.

  2. hey anon

    shows Eartha promoted her beliefs even when not a popular stand to take - more glory to her!

  3. Sadly, we don't see entertainers like Eartha nowadays.

  4. hey victor

    a different generation so different kinds of entertainers

    i think eartha kitt'd like people like margaret cho who are on the edge and agitate for social change and fight against discrimination of various kinds.