Icons: Eartha Kitt. Survivor. (UPDATED)

This post is a tribute to this admirable and fascinating woman – Eartha Kitt

“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma”
— Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt. I think the words ‘unstoppable force’ and ‘survivor’ are the first thing that comes to mind when I read about her, see her performances, or watch her interviews. For me, she’s the one who leaves all role models behind with her perseverance, grit, energy, honesty, courage, and spirit. Her unique and powerful energy is obvious even from the way she performed in shows and movies same as in her photographs. This post is a tribute to this admirable and fascinating woman.

If it’s the first time you’re reading my post in the category ‘Icons’ then I’ll quickly introduce it: these posts are about outstanding women that I sincerely admire. As a rule, in these posts I list 5 especially notable things about them. The goal of these posts is not to retell biographies, but to take a moment to get inspired by incredible women. I’ve previously written about Dita Von Teese and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

And now let’s proceed to one of my absolute role models – Eartha Kitt.

1.She had incredible work ethics and sincerely loved her audience. If you’ve ever seen Eartha Kitt perform (sing, dance, act – anything) you know that her sincere delivery is captivating. The truth is, she was driven by her inner force and love for what she was doing as well as the support and love of the audience she performed for. She started the Katherine Dunham Company in 1943 and remained a member of the troupe until 1948, while her unique voice and delivery of songs has gradually brought her success.

In the 1950s she began her acting career and one of her most notable roles is of Batwoman in Batman in late 1960s.

One of my favorite quotes by Eartha is:

“The public has become my fairy godmother”
– Eartha Kitt

And of course I can’t help but suggest you listen to her absolutely stunning voice in her iconic ‘Santa Baby’:

2.She was openly anti-war and supported same-sex marriage. This is how the story went. In January 1968 Eartha Kitt was invited to a luncheon in the White House. When the First Lady Lady Bird Johnson asked Kitt about the Vietnam War, she replied: “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot.” Then during the question and answer session Eartha Kitt elaborated:

The children of America are not rebelling for no reason. They are not hippies for no reason at all. We don’t have what we have on Sunset Blvd. for no reason. They are rebelling against something. There are so many things burning the people of this country, particularly mothers. They feel they are going to raise sons – and I know what it’s like, and you have children of your own, Mrs. Johnson – we raise children and send them to war.

As a result, the career of Eartha Kitt has taken a downturn and she had to perform abroad. Due to her anti-war remarks, she was blacklisted by the CIA and branded ‘a sadistic nymphomaniac’ by the Agency as well. Eartha Kitt had become unemployable in the United States for years and returned in 1978 with a highly successful spectacle Timbuktu!

“When the people who are responsible for our country ask you a direct question, I expect them to accept a direct answer, not to be blackballed because you are telling the truth”
– Eartha Kitt

“I do think that same gender partners should be able to be married. Why not? If you share a life together than who in the world should have anything to say about it?”
Eartha Kitt

3.She had to struggle with her childhood traumas her whole life and she had the strength to talk about them. In an emotional interview about her book, Eatha Kitt revealed terrible things that she experienced as a child. Her mother gave her away to their relatives because she was going to marry a man who ‘didn’t want that yellow girl in his house.’ Eartha was an illegitimate child and a ‘wrong color’ which, as she said, made her ‘not wanted by the blacks and the whites couldn’t care less.’ The family that her mother gave her up to was using Eartha as a work mule and the children in the family (a boy and a girl) abused her since she was around 5 or 6. Watching this interview of hers made me cry

I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of inner strength she had to gather every day to be able to push through the way she did.

4.She stayed down to earth. Success and wealth are powerful factors that very often change people. Eartha wasn’t one of those people – or at least that’s how it seems from the way she answered questions in interviews, how she behaved, and how she put her career on the line during that luncheon in the White House. During an interview to Ebony magazine in 1993, she said: “I’m a dirt person. I trust the dirt. I don’t trust diamonds and gold.”

“Jewelry, to me, is a pain in the derriere, because you have to be watching it all the time”
– Eartha Kitt

As she said in an interview, she didn’t know real love from men, but knew love from the public and her daughter.

“A man, a man has always wanted to lay me down, but he never wanted to pick me up.”
Eartha Kitt

“I’m an orphan. But the public has adopted me, and that has been my only family. The biggest family in the world is my fans”
– Eartha Kitt

5.She always did her own thing, against all odds. Nothing about Eartha Kitt was ordinary, but what strikes me the most is that she embraced it. This is a great lesson for women who try to fit in to the modern ‘beauty standards’ instead of learning to like what they’ve got.

“I never identified with anybody. I have always been very sensitive about my color, because everybody called me ‘yellow gal.’ I was caught in between both sides – nobody wanted me. I love that my audience is there, but I always feel as though I have to fend for myself.
– Eartha Kitt

“I wouldn’t bother to describe me. I’m Eartha Kitt.”
– Eartha Kitt

“Just because you are different does not mean that you have to be rejected.”
– Eartha Kitt

Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times in May 1952, ‘Eartha Kitt not only looks incendiary, but she can make a song burst into flame.’ Now, I can’t argue with that at all (click to enlarge in a new tab):

In 1950, the director who gave Eartha her first role Orson Welles (according to Eartha herself, he was in love with her, however they never dated) said that she was ‘the most exciting woman in the world.‘ In her role as a Batwoman, she flirted on screen with the lead of the show Adam West, which was definitely risqué at the time. Truly incendiary woman!

“In the ’50s, critics used to say I had a ‘dangerous’ act.”
-Eartha Kitt

“You don’t have to hit anybody on the head to be sexy.”
– Eartha Kitt

FUN FACT: Did you know that the lipstick ‘Fire and Ice’ by Revlon was created by Charles Revson, the billionaire founder of Revlon cosmetics, for Eartha Kitt? The two were lovers for a while in the 1950s before Eartha Kitt married John William McDonald in 1960.

That’s it for now! There are so many interesting facts about Eartha Kitt that it was really difficult to settle on 5 only, but then again – I didn’t want this post to turn into a full biography. Hopefully you enjoyed it!

Who is your icon or role model? Looking forward to your comments!

See you in my next post,


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P.P.S. Did you know that Eartha Kitt was a Soft Gamine in Kibbe’s system? I think everyone who says that Soft Gamines ‘aren’t feminine’, ‘girly looking and not womanly’ and ‘more cute than beautiful’ have to read this and take a close look at her pictures and videos!

***all of the images in this post I’ve found through Google Search

Author: Alexandra @YouAndMeAndCupOfCoffee.com

Passionate researcher and writer. Coffee maniac. Pilates enthusiast. Makeup and skincare junkie. Occasionally - movie and book reviewer. Come join me on my quest!

7 thoughts on “Icons: Eartha Kitt. Survivor. (UPDATED)”

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