December 31, 2008

Eartha Kitt dies at 81

Eartha Kitt, a singer best known for her timeless rendition of holiday favorite Santa Baby and her role as Catwoman on the original Batman television series, died Christmas Day of colon cancer. Kitt was 81.

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The seductive singer and actress, once called “the most exciting woman in the world” by Orson Welles, was born on a cotton plantation in South Carolina to a Cherokee/black mother and a German/Dutch father. Kitt never knew her father and claimed to be a child of rape.

Kitt’s musical hits include Let’s Do It, Champagne Taste, Just an Old Fashioned Girl, Monotonous, Love For Sale, I’d Rather Be Burned as a Witch, Mink, Scmink, Under the Bridges of Paris, and her most famous, Santa Baby, which has been covered by countless artists including Madonna.

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In 1958, Kitt made her feature film debut alongside Sidney Poitier in The Mark of the Hawk. She later took over the role of Catwoman in the Batman TV series when Julie Newmar left due to scheduling conflicts.

The singer/actress also had an illustrious stage career, given her first starring role as Helen of Troy by Welles in the 1950 production of Dr Faustus. Kitt continued her electrifying stage performances until months before her death.

"She loved cabaret performances," says long-time friend and publicist Andrew Freedman. "If there was ever an opportunity to do a small intimate venue with about 150 people, that was always her preference."

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Although diagnosed with cancer two years ago, Kitt was in remission until her recent relapse.

"She came back strongly. She had been performing until two months ago," Freedman says. "We had dates booked through 2009."

Despite many romances, Kitt married only once, a short-lived union with real estate associate which resulted in a daughter, Kitt.

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Source: She Knows

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