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For an entertainer who was often referred to in feline terms throughout her career, it was only fitting that Eartha inherited the Catwoman role from Julie Newmar, who left the series due to conflicts with filming a movie.

A performer labeled a sex kitten whose voice “purred” and whose career was said to have "nine lives,” Eartha carried on the sexy Catwoman role for its final season.

Eartha told Psychology Today that playing Catwoman was “fun because I didn't have to think about her. I didn't try to be sexy or anything.” Later in life, when asked about her cat-like qualities, she said, “I don't try to be a cat. I am a cat!”

Best known as a singer, Eartha was one of the original black sex symbols. And original she was. Performing in theaters and cabarets, she was the most dynamic live female singer of her time.

Director Orson Welles cast her as Helen of Troy in the play “Dr. Faustus” in 1950 and proclaimed her as “the most exciting woman alive.” She later responded, “I just played myself.”

A New York Times reviewer wrote, “Eartha Kitt not only looks incendiary, but she can make a song burst into flames.”
“I'm not a joiner, I don't follow the herd,” she said in a 2006 article in the Austin Chronicle. “And if I happened to 'fit in' for a moment ot two or three or four, I'm very grateful.”

She spoke four languages and sang in seven languages. Her pillow-talk singing style was imitated by every female singer from Diana Ross to Janet Jackson to Madonna. Referencing Madonna's moniker as a “Material Girl,” Eartha called herself “the original Material Girl" and described her life as "of cotton and caviar."
Eartha's teasing, tantalizing recording of “Santa Baby” has endured for more than a half-century. Other hits, song in similiar come-hither style, included “Let's Do It,” “C'est si bon,” and “Just an Old Fashioned Girl.”

Her career came to a standstill in the late 1960s after she criticized America's involvement in Vietnam at a luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Johnson. After telling Mrs. Johnson that the country's problems with juvenile deliquents could be traced to her husband's policy of sending young men to fight and die in the Vietnam War, Eartha said the president had her blacklisted.

“She asked me a question and I gave her my opinion,” she told in 1997. “There was no ranting and raving and screaming and I was not out there to sing songs.
Classic TV Beauties

No. 31
Classic TV Beauties 1960s Countdown
EARTHA KITT as Catwoman in "Batman"
“It stopped me from working because President Johnson said, 'I don't want to see that woman's face anywhere. Out of sight, out of mind.'  And it locked the door to theaters and clubs. They didn't want me to work there because they did not want the CIA and FBI on their doorstep.”

Born in the small farming community of North, South Carolina before the Great Depression, Eartha endured a difficult childhood. Her mother was a half Cherokee, half black sharecropper and Eartha never knew her white father. It was reported that Eartha's father, the son of the man who owned the farm, raped her mother, resulting in her birth.

Eartha's mother abandoned her when she was young and she thought she was an orphan. (She never knew her actual birthdate until late in life when a group of college students researched and discovered her birth certificate). A local black family adopted the illegitimate child but abused her because she looked too white.
“I never identified with anybody,” she said. “I have always been sensitive to my color, because everybody called me 'yellow gal.' I was caught between both sides. Nobody wanted me.”

At age 8 she was sent to Harlem to live with an aunt, whom she assumed was her biological mother. She said before she moved to New York she'd never known electricity and indoor plumbing, much less TV and radio.
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.
Eartha Kitt Catwoman "Batman"
Eartha Kitt Catwoman "Batman"
Yvonne Craig Batgirl "Batman"
Julie Newmar "Batman" Catwoman
Goldie Hawn "Rowan & Martin's Laugh In"
Peggy Lipton "The Mod Squad" Julie Barnes
Linda Evans "The Big Valley" Audra Barkley
Maureen McCormick "The Brady Bunch" Marcia Brady
Barbara Bain "Mission Impossible" Cinnamon Carter
Lee Meriwether "Barnaby Jones" Betty Jones
Sally Struthers "All in the Family" Gloria Stivic