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Eartha Kitt

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South Carolina, United States

Eartha Mae Kitt (January 17, 1927 - December 25, 2008), was an American actress, singer, and cabaret star. She was perhaps best known for her 1953 Christmas song Santa Baby. Orson Welles once called her the “most exciting woman in the world”. She took on the role of Catwoman for the fourth season of the 1960s Batman TV series, replacing Julie Newmar who was unavailable for the final series.

Born in tiny North, South Carolina to Mamie Kitt, who was of Cherokee and African-American descent, and an American father (surname Kitt) of German and Dutch descent, she was raised by her maternal aunt Anna Mae Riley, whom she believed was her mother up until after Riley’s death, when she was sent to live in New York City with her real mother.

Kitt began her career as a member of the Katherine Dunham Company and made her film debut with them in Casbah (1948). A talented singer with a distinctive voice, her hits include Let’s Do It, C’est si bon (It’s So Good), Just an Old Fashioned Girl, Monotonous, Love for Sale, I’d Rather Be Burned as a Witch, Uska Dara, Mink, Schmink, Under the Bridges of Paris, and arguably her most recognizable hit, the sexily sung Christmas song Santa Baby. She sang quite a few songs in French, a language she picked up during her years performing in Europe, but she never lost her American accent, which made her French songs sound rather amusing to native French speakers. She dabbled in other languages as well, which she demonstrated in many of the live recordings of her cabaret performances.

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