Celebrity News

Sultry Former Catwoman Kitt Dies

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Dec 26, 2008 | 7:09am EST

One of the original “sex kittens” has passed on.

Singer/dancer/actress Eartha Kitt, who rose from the Southern cotton fields to captivate audiences around the world, died of colon cancer on Thursday at the age of 81, Reuters reports.

The cancer was detected about two years ago and treated but recurred after a period of remission. "She came back strongly. She had been performing until two months ago," Andrew Freedman, a long-time friend and publicist told Reuters by telephone from Los Angles. "We had dates booked through 2009."

Slinky, sensuous and cat-like, Kitt described herself as a "sex kitten" and used her seductive purr to great effect, especially when she played Catwoman on the 1960s Batman TV series.

But Kitt had the greatest success as a singer and dancer. Her hit songs included "C'est Si Bon," "Let's Do It" and "Just an Old Fashioned Girl." She also was widely associated with Christmas because of her hit "Santa Baby."

Kitt also loved to perform in front of a live audience. "She loved cabaret performances," Freedman said. "If there was ever an opportunity to do a small intimate venue with about 150 people, that was always her preference."

She was born to a black-Indian mother and a white father on a plantation in South Carolina in 1927, Reuters reports. She once described herself as "that little urchin cotton picker from the South, Eartha Mae" and often spoke of a tough childhood in the impoverished segregated South.

Maybe it was growing up with such hardships that made her so confident in later years. In an interview with The Times of London in April, Kitt described her approach to performing by saying: "I do not have an act. I just do Eartha Kitt ... I want to be whoever Eartha Kitt is until the gods take me wherever they take me."

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