We were fortunate to catch the inimitable act of Eartha Kitt, last winter at D.C.’s Warner Theatre. The veteran entertainer was flirtatious, musical, acrobatic, and witty- for two crowd-pleasing hours. Thus it was difficult to believe she died yesterday, and that she was all of 81 years old. The consumate performer, a contemporary of Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, and Harry Belafonte, ascended almost two years to the day after James Brown. How fitting- both South Carolina-born, of modest means, grand gifts to the world.
She was outspoken, as witnessed by the 1968 incident where she confronted First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson about Black and poor young men fighting in Viet Nam. She was a trailblazer, portraying the first “Catwoman” on t.v.’s Batman in 1966. And she was resilient. Kitt was frank, and her talents were many. The show at the Warner was the best solitary performance I have ever seen, rife with sexy repartee, and more allusions to bling than a gangsta rap CD. Kitt was one of a kind, for real.