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Eartha Kitt - Rest In Peace
December 25, 2008 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Eartha Kitt, The Pur-r-rfect Woman dies at 81 The Real Catwoman once described as "The Most Exciting Woman in the World". And no Christmas mix is complete without her rendition of "Santa Baby". Thank you Miss Kitt .
posted by somnambulist (104 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
She was one of my heroes! Her version of Santa Baby is hot as hell. RIP Eartha.
posted by flipyourwig at 2:59 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by iviken at 3:02 PM on December 25, 2008


A wonderful woman. It's sad to see her go.

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posted by flatluigi at 3:03 PM on December 25, 2008


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(purrr)
posted by LMGM at 3:04 PM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by brujita at 3:11 PM on December 25, 2008


Well then they better not have Catwoman as the villain in Batman Begins 3.


:(
posted by paisley henosis at 3:16 PM on December 25, 2008


a little off kilter, but heartfelt nonetheless
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posted by msconduct at 3:18 PM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by Flood at 3:19 PM on December 25, 2008


I Want to Be Evil

Santa Baby

What a lovely and wonderful woman who lived a full life.
posted by sleepy pete at 3:22 PM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Somewhere St. Peter is saying "Va-va-vooom!"
posted by jonmc at 3:24 PM on December 25, 2008


wow, dotty-mcdot for Santa Baby.
posted by fixedgear at 3:25 PM on December 25, 2008


Santa Baby

Here's a version without the interlopers.
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:26 PM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


*
posted by terranova at 3:30 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by fuzzypantalones at 3:30 PM on December 25, 2008


"C'est Si Bon."
posted by blucevalo at 3:32 PM on December 25, 2008


A Christmas gift to heaven.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:35 PM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


The first song I heard by her was "Uska Dara," which blew my mind, as it's actually a well-loved Turkish tune and despite what many Western ears might perceive as a kind of "Hollywood" production, it's actually closer to real Turkish music than you'd think. And I'm not the best judge, but her pronunciation seems really great. Later, I heard the classic "Santa Baby," which should have been hers alone. (Just hearing Madonna's desperate version makes me want to be ill.)

And "Monotonous" - what a great song.

But the best for me is I Want To Be Evil. It's a stellar video; Eartha looks like an absolute doll at the start only to manage to transfer her appearance into something that's actually a little half-mad and evil-looking. She had such wonderfully expressive face.

The best thing about her was that she was absolutely true to herself - she never shied away from her political and ideological beliefs, despite the fact that it really hurt her career - she smoked pot, made Lady Bird Johnson cry with her anti-Vietnam remarks, spoke up for black consciousness, was comfortable with levels of sexual expression long before they were acceptable, defended the rights of homosexuals, and more. In this, she paved the way for other female performers whose individuality was not submerged by popular demand. I see some Eartha Kitt in Nina Simone, and if you watch the video above to the end and don't see a connection between Kitt's charm and Björk's beguiling nature . . . well then, you're blind!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:35 PM on December 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


I covered NY nightlife in the late 80s for a magazine, and went to a post concert party for the Pet Shop Boys. Eartha Kitt was there. The VIP room was packed, and Ms. Kitt looked at me and I rose to give her my seat. She gently put her hand on my shoulder, and instead asked "Is this seat taken?", gesturing at my lap. I stammered "No."

She proceeded to sit there for 45 minutes, holding court, while I looked on quietly, amazed. She thanked me afterwards, kissed my cheek and left.

Serving as her throne was an honor and a pleasure.

May she RIP.
posted by ltracey at 3:40 PM on December 25, 2008 [52 favorites]


Everyone keep a close eye on your cutural icons for the remainder of Christmas day.
posted by Artw at 3:46 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by fuse theorem at 3:49 PM on December 25, 2008


Here Kitty Kitty ... rrrowrr ...

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posted by kcds at 3:49 PM on December 25, 2008


um, something in that there, for her to pass away on Christmas

oh dear, no words can capture anything and ltracey and dee xtrovert have done a far far better job

i just wanna grow up and be like her, I hope I keep going like she did.

rip
posted by infini at 4:02 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by Duke999R at 4:07 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by homunculus at 4:08 PM on December 25, 2008


She was investigated by the FBI and CIA, which allegedly found her to be foul-mouthed and promiscuous.

"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," Kitt told Essence magazine two decades later.

posted by infini at 4:09 PM on December 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well then they better not have Catwoman as the villain in Batman Begins 3.

Well, you may not like this rumor then.
posted by homunculus at 4:09 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by Joe Beese at 4:09 PM on December 25, 2008


Oh no!

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posted by rtha at 4:17 PM on December 25, 2008


The world lever just jumped away from awesome and practically buried itself in suck.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:24 PM on December 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


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I'll be glad when 2008 is over. Too many good people, too many memories done and gone.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:26 PM on December 25, 2008


No.

Please no?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:28 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by davelog at 4:38 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by RussHy at 4:39 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by chihiro at 5:04 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:06 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by cashman at 5:25 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by ChestnutMonkey at 5:34 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by p3t3 at 5:35 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by lunit at 5:46 PM on December 25, 2008


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my first
i feel twelve again
yay metafilter
posted by 8-bit floozy at 5:50 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by StrangeTikiGod at 6:05 PM on December 25, 2008


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;____;
posted by dipping_sauce at 6:06 PM on December 25, 2008


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I'm a big fan of "Uska Dara".
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:38 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 6:48 PM on December 25, 2008




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posted by Azaadistani at 6:51 PM on December 25, 2008


=^o.o^=
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:57 PM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


At the age of twenty-three, she bedazzled Orson Welles, who recognized an original when he saw it.
“I do not have an act. I just do Eartha Kitt. Eartha Kitt is my act and I am still learning from her. Not that I want to be perfect. I do not believe in perfection. What do you do with perfection? I want to be whoever Eartha Kitt is until the gods take me wherever they take me.”
Also,
The key to Kitt’s voice is that “grrrowl”. She says she mastered the vibrato when learning to roll her R’s to speak French. “You know how to gargle? That’s it!” When I protest that it sounds too simple, she explains that the rest is “voice placement” – channelling the voice to a particular place in the mouth.
I hope that wherever the goods take her, they treat her right.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:58 PM on December 25, 2008


I remember seeing her on Arsenio Hall's talk show when I was a kid. She was singing some song and paused part way through to have a discussion in French with a balding nobody audience member and everyone sat charmed by it. This went on for several minutes and then she finished the song. It was awesome and impressive.
posted by FunkyHelix at 7:00 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by brandz at 7:11 PM on December 25, 2008


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What an awful year it's been.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:17 PM on December 25, 2008


Wow, I didn't know that she denounced LBJ to his face over Vietnam. Nice one. Pity about the exile to Europe afterwards.
posted by Artw at 7:17 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by longsleeves at 7:19 PM on December 25, 2008


Bravo Eartha...Bravo. (the curtain lowers) (Eartha exits).
posted by doctorschlock at 7:23 PM on December 25, 2008


Oh shit.
posted by The Whelk at 7:27 PM on December 25, 2008


I'd be curious what kind of conversation she and Harold Pinter are having right about now.
posted by fungible at 7:29 PM on December 25, 2008


Aw, no! So many times, people who get labelled icons have little more to offer but their surface, even though that surface may be fabulous. Eartha Kitt had guts, too.

All her classics have been linked already, but here's a slice of 80s cheese (Where is my man?) that I'm still very fond of.
posted by maudlin at 7:34 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by benzenedream at 7:37 PM on December 25, 2008


Definitely an original.

What a day of all days for her to pass...
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:38 PM on December 25, 2008


She makes a great appearance in the Isaac Mizrahi documentary, Unzipped. It was amazing to see how Isaac Mizrahi was in complete awe of her. He said something like this:

Mizrahi: Ohmigod! I was just talking to Eartha Kitt, and she was using her Catwoman voice, and she asked "Will you make me gowns?" And I'm like, "Oh...my...God... I will make you nothing but gowns."

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posted by jonp72 at 7:46 PM on December 25, 2008


(Whoops! Here's the actual Where is my man video.)
posted by maudlin at 7:48 PM on December 25, 2008


She had the best growl.

I've been a fan ever since I saw her play the Wicked Witch of the West when I was but a youngin. She will be missed.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:51 PM on December 25, 2008



posted by Smart Dalek at 7:54 PM on December 25, 2008


Rest in Peace and thank you for being one the funniest parts of The Emperor's New Groove
posted by Ruby Stevens at 8:04 PM on December 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Was playing "Santa Baby" just yesterday night in order to create a Christmas-y mood.

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posted by the cydonian at 8:07 PM on December 25, 2008


Eartha Kitt was, for all intents and purposes, Auntie Mame and Catwoman and all the rest for me and no doubt some others, so, here you go

I Want To Be Evil

Mink, Schmink

My Champagne Tastes

C'est Si Bon

Old Fashioned Millionaire

Love, Oh Love

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

I Don't Care (remix)


RIP, with diamonds, of course
posted by The Whelk at 8:21 PM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Serving as her throne was an honor and a pleasure.

fapfapfap

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posted by humannaire at 8:38 PM on December 25, 2008


ARGH

Smoke gets in your eyes

And I really should mention

If I'm a Witch

cause it's really, really well edited and very smart, and I think sums up the whole THING, as it was.
posted by The Whelk at 8:40 PM on December 25, 2008


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I never knew much about her, but I always loved "I Want To Be Evil."

Sounds like she was a really neat person, though.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:42 PM on December 25, 2008


::sigh::


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posted by droplet at 8:49 PM on December 25, 2008


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When I lived in New York, I had the great honor of seeing her perform live at the Cafe Carlyle several years in a row. There isn't a bad seat in that house, let me tell you, but I had the honor of always sitting just a few seats away from her and I was always so spellbound. I had hoped to catch her at least one last time, but her performing had become irregular the last few years. The friend who I went with to see her was friends with an employee of the Carlyle, so he arranged for us to ride in the elevator with her after the show to her room. It was a quick ride, of course, but it was fun to be in such a close space with her even for a minute and she was very gracious and we had a short chit-chat. I gave her roses.

I was first introduced to Eartha Kitt in 1989 in Hamburg Germany by a Filipino friend I had just met. Here I was, a 19 year old Mid-Western exchange student and had never known any real foreigners before and I was over at his dorm room for tea, and he proceeded to play "I Want To Be Evil" for me. It was all the most wonderful and marvelous experience, being introduced to the most fascinating of voices and musical styles in the small, European style dormitories by one of my first foreign friends.

I didn't actually buy any of her records at the time, but she always stayed with me. When I moved back to the states, I bought her "Live at The Plaza" CD and just fell in love with it, listening to it over and over again. She was hardly known in the US, and I always reveled in introducing her music to my friends. Most people thought she was quite strange, of course! LOL

I'm not much of a person to get star-struck. My heroes have always been my mother and father. Eartha really struck me though. Such an amazing and wonderful character. I truly admired her. Talented and so energetic. I couldn't believe the performances she would put on in her 70s. She could still sing wonderfully and she had lots of energy and would bend over while crooning backwards and forwards and just move around with no problems.

The world has definitely lost someone valuable and inspiring. Eartha, you are already missed.
posted by PigAlien at 9:05 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by Chanther at 9:13 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by Jikido at 9:16 PM on December 25, 2008


Great recent clip from Jools Holland. Ain't Misbehavin

At 81, she still had it.
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 9:23 PM on December 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


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posted by voltairemodern at 9:53 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by nickyskye at 9:55 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by moss at 9:56 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by ahimsakid at 9:57 PM on December 25, 2008


How can we keep the faith as wild women without our icons? This month has really been the dark tail of the year - Betty, Majel and now Eartha.

May Bast keep you well and wild, wherever you are.

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posted by Jilder at 9:57 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by gingerbeer at 9:59 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by robtf3 at 10:24 PM on December 25, 2008


>^_^<

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posted by schyler523 at 10:34 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by podwarrior at 10:48 PM on December 25, 2008


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posted by bashos_frog at 4:24 AM on December 26, 2008


As I enter my twilight years (I was born in 1949) it is incredibly sad as more icons vanish. I lost my stepmother four years ago to the day and recently lost my mother and stepfather in the last couple of months, there is only my father left, he will be 83 next April. He is very frail but a tough old bugger.

Eartha Kitt was a fantastic performer who almost seem to parody herself, but she represents a generation that is fast disappearing, this a generation that fought in a world war, went to the moon, split the atom, worked out DNA, invented computers, possibly the most productive generation in the history of the human race. We have come a long way in a very short space of time.

As to what the future holds we do not know for sure, but I believe the future has been written by the past. If in the distant future there are Jungles on mars, because we put them there. Then it seems to me that we would not have to change one second of our history. We got nuclear technology, rockets and computers all as a result of the second world war, all of which have given us the ability to reach for the stars. I am not condoning the second world war, but we must come to terms with our history, because we can not change it, unless we take up lying for a hobby :)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
posted by dollyknot at 4:59 AM on December 26, 2008


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posted by kuppajava at 5:51 AM on December 26, 2008


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posted by Spatch at 6:20 AM on December 26, 2008


She played a junkie in an episode of "I Spy" that I saw when it aired in 1965--revelatory and world-changing for a twelve-year-old white boy.
posted by Restless Day at 6:41 AM on December 26, 2008


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posted by tommasz at 7:21 AM on December 26, 2008


Eartha Kitt "Revisited" album jacket
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:42 AM on December 26, 2008


OK, here we go... Eartha Kitt "Santa Baby" record jacket.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:58 AM on December 26, 2008


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posted by nooneyouknow at 8:30 AM on December 26, 2008


She was absolutely perfect for the volva role in "Erik the Viking".
posted by QIbHom at 8:57 AM on December 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


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>^_^<
posted by Jade Dragon at 10:25 AM on December 26, 2008


Her name was a fine piece of classic cockney rhyming slang.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:48 AM on December 26, 2008


Also, I'm sure we weren't the only family to think naming our black female cat Eartha Kitt was terribly clever.
posted by Restless Day at 12:12 PM on December 26, 2008


¨She was investigated by the FBI and CIA, which allegedly found her to be foul-mouthed and promiscuous.¨

What a great compliment. You go, girl!
posted by lometogo at 12:53 PM on December 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


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posted by lapolla at 3:44 PM on December 26, 2008


My Lord ... I must have watched "Just an Old Fashioned Girl" (above) about six times already. I had never heard it until they played an extract on NPR today. It's not really the style of music I'd listen to, but I found it utterly mesmerizing in a way I can't put my finger on. I do recall her on some 60's variety TV, but I suspect they didn't really let her cut loose with her own repertoire. This is wonderful stuff.
posted by RavinDave at 3:47 PM on December 26, 2008


To be honest, I'd always filed Eartha Kitt away into the Extremely Cool Iconic Figure of Times Gone By bin-- an icon, yet one lovable and human; an icon, but one I didn't pay much attention to.

Until last night, I'd never seen that "I Want to Be Evil" clip-- sad that it took her death to make me look up her actual work, as opposed to just having a warm fuzzy image of her in my head.

Then I saw that clip and my jaw dropped.

That clip: Stunning. Astonishing. Absolutely.

As Norman Mailer passed away (was it this year, or last?) I imagine the two of them sailing on some fiery, tempestuous, or at least frequently cranky journey into the stars and afterlife, this on some Old Kingdom Egyptian boat carved of Pure Male-Female Archetypal Conflict.
posted by darth_tedious at 6:06 PM on December 26, 2008


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posted by 404 Not Found at 4:13 AM on December 27, 2008


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posted by andraste at 4:30 AM on December 27, 2008


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