Friday, December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt on the Finally Friday Freakout

Eartha Kitt was fierce. In mind, body and spirit she was a hell of a woman. I mean that in as a honorific statement. She survived childhood neglect and abuse. Eartha survived a lot of misfortune, and, by her own admission, gave a bit of misfortune to others. Eartha triumph in her chosen profession during one of the most racially contentious times in United States history.

Eartha at 40 something years old looked damn good in a cat suit. Which is probably when I was first introduced to Eartha Kitt, as Catwoman on the 1960s live action Batman. That purr, growl and that look of mischief. Her voice, both spoken and her singing voice cannot be imitated.

Later, I learned of her history. She was in deed a character or, as the young folks say today, “she was a hot mess.” In her 81 years on the planet she had ups and downs. Eartha made mistakes but come hell or high water she survived her detractors. Miss Kitt always found a way to get off the floor and get back to the stage where she belonged.

A person of persistence and endurance with a good chunk of humor and sensuality mixed in for spice. I couldn't choose just one clip so to begin this tribute let's look at a little ditty from 1962 called I Want to be Evil.

There was a time when by necessity and being blackballed in America Eartha spent time performing in Europe. In the late 1970s she came back to America and reclaimed her place in the entertainment industry.

But she did return to Europe often. Eartha had disco hits on the UK charts. I had no idea that she made music videos. This is a reveling rendition of I Don't Care.

Finally, this is Eartha, at 81 years of age on the BBC program Later, Live singing Ain't Misbehaving with Jools Holland on piano. In the middle of the interview there is a moment where a clip of one of her early performances is played. Eartha explains that she basically is a shy person.

I believe her that when she was not on stage that was probably true. But it is a hard sell when she proceeds to rock the house with this Fats Waller tune.

I think Heaven just got to be a little more interesting place. St. Pete is looking over her chapter in the Big Book and scratching his chin. She gives him one of her purrs. He tells the angels to open up the gate and personally escorts her in to her new digs. Rock on Eartha!

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