Kitt won a scholarship to the ground-breaking Katherine Denham Dance Company, the first black modern dance group in the United States: eventually she joined them on tour in France.
In a war-weary Europe, mid Fifties Paris was glamorous and exciting, pulsing with artists and intellectuals. Leaving Denham, Kitt launched her solo singing career, aggressively flaunting her sexuality and her ambition for fame and riches.
Considered new and extraordinary, she acted with Welles and got herself places that black women of the time should never have expected to go. Her workload was relentless. As well as cabaret she was involved in stage shows on and off Broadway and in both TV and films, including stints as Catwoman in Batman and in Mission Impossible.
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There was nothing salacious in her presentations because they were always done with a touch of good humor. I remember her early success very well, because it occurred when I was in my late teens, a time when music takes on a special importance. At that time, pop music was for the most part in the doldrums, and I had already escaped to Frank Sinatra, jazz, and rhythm and blues.
As the author points out, she herself deserved respect because, in the catchphrase of the day, she had come a long way, baby.
Book review: America's Mistress: The Life And Times of Eartha Kitt by John L Williams
She was born into rural poverty, picked cotton as a child in her native South Carolina and then moved to Spanish Harlem to live with an aunt. A high-school teacher taught her not only how to speak English well, but how to read a menu and have table manners.
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She learned to dance by becoming a member of the popular all-black Katherine Dunham dance troupe. She became a student and evidently more of then well-known blues-folk singer Josh White.
America s Mistress: The Life and Times of Miss Eartha Kitt [NEWS]
She even had tea with Albert Einstein. She always had more white fans than black ones.
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She reached the peak of her fame in By , her career was, for all practical purposes, over. The author deals with the next 40 years of her life in two brief chapters.
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She married, had a daughter, divorced, fell in and out of love, drank too much, had mental problems and died from cancer on Christmas Day , with only her daughter by her side. In the great scheme of things, Kitt was not a major force in American entertainment.
But during her relatively brief moment of glory, she demonstrated a unique kind of style and class that should be remembered. Despite Mr.