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Friday, December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt, Singer, Dancer, Activist, Dies

Eartha Kitt died on Christmas Day 2008 in Connecticut. She had recently been treated for colon cancer. She was 81 years old.

Orson Welles called her "The most exciting woman in the world." She persevered through an unhappy childhood as a mixed-race daughter of the South to become one of the entertainment world's most versatile performers, winning two Emmys and receiving a third nomination. She also was nominated for several Tonys and two Grammys.

Eartha Kitt began her career as a dancer with the Katherine Dunham dance group. From there she sang in cabarets moving to acting and singing on stage, in movies and on television. Below an interview from 2006.

As an activist she participated in the movement for equal rights marching with the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. She was also an opponent to the war in Viet Nam stating at a White House luncheon with then First Lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson, "You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed," she told the group of about 50 women. "They rebel in the street. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam."

For those remarks she investigated by the FBI and CIA. Following that episode wherein she expressed her anti-war stance Ms Kitt worked almost exclusively overseas.

In an interview with Essence MAgazine Ms Kitt revealed, "The thing that hurts, that became anger, was when I realized that if you tell the truth _ in a country that says you're entitled to tell the truth-you get your face slapped and you get put out of work."

Eartha Kitt was known for her cat-like purr. Her career spanned 60 years. She will always be remembered as an international symbol of elegance and sensuality.

"I'm an orphan. But the public has adopted me and that has been my only family. The biggest family in the world is my fans."

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