At age 16, on a dare, she auditioned for and won a spot as a dancer for the Katherine Dunham Dance Company in New York.
“I never knew anything about show business,” she said in the Psychology Today interview. “It happened by accident. I was a street dancer. It was rumba and cha-cha-cha. You just followed the leader.”
Soon she was performing on Broadway and recording songs. Over the next half-century, she appeared on stage, in television and in films, and continued to make records.
Eartha entertained up until the end of her life. At age 79, she opened the renovated Cafe Carlyle in New York, and a reviewer noted her voice was “in full growl.”
“I am the last of the Mohicans, the crème de la crème of cabaret,” she said several years before her death. “As long as I'm in front of an audience, it doesn't matter if it's the theatre or cabaret. I love it.”
Eartha died of colon cancer at age 81 on Christmas Day 2008.