Legendary siren Eartha Kitt passed away on Christmas Day in New York City, her publicist confirmed to CNN. Kitt, 81, had been treated for colon cancer. Her daughter Kitt Shapiro was by her side at the time of her death.
Eartha was primarily known for singing in her distinctively raspy voice and purring like a cat as Catwoman on the ’60s TV series Batman. She was a star of stage, the small and big screen and music. Kitt was nominated for three Tony awards, two Grammy awards and two Emmys.
Born around the cotton fields of South Carolina, Eartha left at the age of 4 to go live with an aunt in Harlem. She began her career after she auditioned on a dare for the Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe…and landed a spot as a featured dancer and vocalist.
She built a name for herself touring in Europe, then became famous in America when she appeared in the Broadway revue New Faces of 1952, where she introduced “Santa Baby,” as well as her other trademark songs, “C’est Si Bon” and “Monotonous.”
A performer to the very end, Kitt taped a PBS special in Chicago six weeks ago that is set to air in February. Only last week, “Santa Baby” was certified gold. Here’s an early video of Eartha Kitt singing that classic. Rest In Peace.