Los Angeles, CA — “She wanted to leave this earth as she had arrived, with no fanfare. The life she lived is tribute itself. I will miss her.” These are the words of Kitt Shapiro, only child of the legendary chanteuse, dancer, Broadway performer, movie and TV star Eartha Kitt who died on Christmas Day 2008.
As the 81st Academy of Motion Pictures Awards flashed photos of actors who died in 2008, the image of Eartha Kitt was notably missing.
Although she may have wanted to leave this earth with no fanfare, her many accomplishments cannot be overlooked or understated.
Eartha rose from a difficult childhood and adolescence (abandoned by her mother at age eight, put out of her aunt’s home at 15), to become a three time Tony Award nominee, a twice nominated Grammy contender, and ultimately the recipient of the 2007 and 2008 Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program and the 2007 and 2008 Annie Award for Best Vocal Performance in an Animated Television Production for her vocal performance as Yzma in Disney’s Emperor’s New School.
She began her career with the Katherine Dunham Company and appeared with the group in her first film, “Casbah,” in 1948.
Eartha was also known for her portrayal of “Catwoman” in the Batman television series, and she appeared in a MAC cosmetics commercial in August 2007.
A unique civil rights advocate, in 1968, when as an invited guest at a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson, Eartha spoke out against the Vietnam War. For years afterward, she was blacklisted in the United States and was forced to work abroad where her status remained undiminished. In December 2006 she returned to Washington and lit the National Christmas Tree alongside President and Mrs. George W. Bush.
Most often known for her 1953 song, “Santa Baby,” ironically Kitt passed away on Christmas Day, 2008.
Kitt, 81, died of colon cancer in her Weston, Connecticut home.