Eartha Kitt Biography

Eartha Kitt was an American singer, actress, dancer, comedian, activist, and author. Check out this biography to know about her childhood, family, personal life, career, and achievements.

Quick Facts

Birthday: January 17, 1927

Nationality: American

Famous: Dancers Jazz Singers

Died At Age: 81

Sun Sign: Capricorn

Also Known As: Eartha Mae Keith

Born Country: United States

Born in: North, South Carolina, United States

Famous as: Singer

Height: 5'4" (163 cm), 5'4" Females


Spouse/Ex-: John W. McDonald (m. 1960-1965)

mother: Annie Mae Keith

children: Kitt McDonald

Died on: December 25, 2008

place of death: Weston

U.S. State: South Carolina

More Facts

education: High School of Performing Arts

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Eartha Kitt was an American singer, actor, dancer, comedian, activist, and author. She was a multi-faceted individual who left a mark in every sphere she touched. Born to an unwed mother, Kitt faced severe hardships in her early days. When Kitt’s mother abandoned her, she was forced to live with a distant relative. Her love for music brought her to the ‘The High School of Performing Arts.’ The school was previously known as the ‘Metropolitan Vocational High School.’ Kitt started her career as a singer with the ‘Katherine Dunham Company.’ She sang several hit songs for the company. Her unique voice was noticed by many. Kitt received her first acting offer when she was cast in the play ‘Dr. Faustus.’ She was also cast in the musical revue ‘New Faces of 1952,’ in which she sang the popular song ‘Monotonous.’ The Christmas song ‘Santa Baby,’ sung by Kitt, is popular to this day. Kitt was cast as ‘Catwoman’ in the popular series ‘Batman.’ She created quite a sensation with her trademark growl while playing the part. Kitt suffered a serious setback in her career when she made an anti-war statement at a luncheon in the ‘White House.’ Following this incident, she was defamed by the ‘Central Intelligence Agency’ (CIA). A few years later, she made a successful comeback on ‘Broadway,’ with the musical ‘Timbuktu.’ Her performance earned her a ‘Tony Award’ nomination. She performed as a voice actor in several ‘Disney’ movies. Kitt was active in her profession till a few months before her death. She was an activist, too, and supported issues such as women empowerment and same-sex marriage. Kitt breathed her last at the age of 81, after battling colon cancer. She was honored with a “star” on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame.’

Childhood & Early Life
  • In 1943, Kitt started her singing career with the ‘Katherine Dunham Company.’ She recorded several hit songs, such as ‘Monotonous,’ Let’s Do It,’ and ‘Love for Sale.’ Her song ‘Santa Baby,’ which was released in 1953, is a popular Christmas song to this day. Kitt remained a part of the troupe till 1948. She traveled around the world with the company.
  • Kitt was a popular singer at the nightclubs of Paris. Due to her unique voice, she was widely noticed and appreciated. In 1950, famed American director Orson Welles offered her the role of ‘Helen of Troy’ in his play ‘Dr. Faustus.’ In 1952, she was cast in the musical revue ‘New Faces of 1952.’ Kitt performed songs such as ‘Monotonous’ and ‘Bal, Petit Bal’ on the show.
  • In 1953, Kitt sang the song ‘Santa Baby,’ which is one of the most popular Christmas songs ever sung. During the 1950s, Kitt performed at several nightclubs and cabaret events. She performed in major roles in movies such as ‘New Faces,’ ‘St. Louis Blues,’ and ‘Anna Lucasta.’ She was also part of ‘Broadway’ plays such as ‘Shinbone Alley’ and ‘Jolly’s Progress.’
  • In 1967, Kitt was chosen to portray the character ‘Catwoman’ in the American TV series ‘Batman.’ Although Kitt played the character only for a limited period, she immortalized her performance with her distinct voice and growl.
  • In 1968, Kitt suffered a setback in her career due to her vocal nature. While attending an organized luncheon at the ‘White House,’ she spoke against the Vietnam War. Kitt expressed her sentiments using strong words. This caused significant displeasure among the officials. Following this, Kitt found it difficult to get employment in the US. She was branded a “sadistic nymphomaniac” by the ‘CIA.’
  • In the 1970s, Kitt concentrated on her performances in Europe and Asia. In 1975, she played a prominent role in the Blaxploitation movie ‘Friday Foster.’ In 1978, Kitt made a tremendous comeback on ‘Broadway,’ with the musical ‘Timbuktu.’ Her performance in the play earned her a nomination for the ‘Tony Award’ for the ‘Best Actress in a Musical.’
  • In 1992, Kitt appeared as ‘Lady Eloise’ in the romantic comedy ‘Boomerang.’ She worked as a voice actor, too. She lent her voice to animated series such as ‘The Magic School Bus’ and ‘The Wild Thornberrys.’ In 1998, Kitt lent her voice to the character ‘Bagheera’ in the movie ‘The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story.’
  • In 2000, Kitt performed in the ‘Broadway’ musical ‘The Wild Party.’ Kitt’s performance earned her a nomination for the ‘Tony Award’ for the ‘Best Featured Actress in a Musical.’ She was also nominated for the ‘Drama Desk Award’ for ‘Outstanding Featured Actress in Musical.’ The same year, she voiced the character ‘Yzma’ in the animated comedy movie ‘The Emperor’s New Groove.’ She won an ‘Annie Award’ for this performance.
  • Eartha Kitt was an activist. She was associated with the group ‘Rebels with a Cause.’ She worked for several social causes, such as women empowerment and acceptance of gay marriages. She authored three autobiographies. They were ‘Thursday’s Child,’ ‘Alone with Me,’ and ‘I’m Still Here: Confessions of a Sex Kitten.’
Family & Personal Life
  • Kitt was always in the news for her romantic relationships. She was in relationships with businessman Charles Revson and banking heir John Barry Ryan III. In 1960, Kitt married John William McDonald, who was an associate of a real-estate company. They have a daughter, Kitt McDonald. The couple divorced in 1965.
  • Kitt died on December 25, 2008, at her home in Connecticut. She was suffering from colon cancer. Her daughter recalls that Kitt was screaming at the top of her voice when she passed away. Her performance as a voice actor in the series ‘Wonder Pets!’ earned Kitt a posthumous honor at the 2010 ‘Emmy Awards’. In 1960, she was also honored with a “star” on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame.’

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