There was never a dull moment with Eartha Kitt, who was a singer, actress, dancer, comedian, activist, author and songwriter.
Her lithe, feline movements, the bewitchingly provocative glances from her wide-set eyes earned her admirers.
Hits such as “Just An Old-Fashioned Girl”, “Santa Baby” , “I Want to Be Evil”, “Jonny”, “Dinner for One Please, James”, “The Heel” and “The Day That the Circus Left Town” left no one in doubt about her skill, gift and abilities.
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Aside music, she also had a film, theatre and television career, delighting a new generation when she played Catwoman in the series Batman.
Kitt was born out of wedlock in 1927 to a white father and a mother who was African American and Cherokee in a small town called North in South Carolina. Her parents worked on a cotton farm, and named her Eartha because the harvest was good that year.
Life, however, was tough when her father abandoned her while her mother sent her to foster parents so she could remarry.
Despite the odds, Kitt would excel at her craft but it was her love life and a particular episode which was to break her heart.
She was romantically linked to folk singer Josh White, Orson Welles and other stars on both sides of the racial divide.
Considered a traitor by some in the Black community for going out with white guys, she was also rejected by whites when their mothers objected to her African heritage.
Kitt was also involved with Arthur Loew Jr. the wealthy heir to the MGM movie empire. Although Loew didn’t care that Kitt was black, his family objected to their union.
When Loew told his father he wanted to marry Kitt, his father threatened to disown him, adding the shareholders will never accept a black heir.
When Loew suggested that he will keep Kitt as a mistress, she was gutted. She never fully recovered from that incident. She might have gone to the grave feeling that he was the one that got away.
“The mother would have Arthur marry thrash than someone of color no matter how wonderful that person was,” Kitt noted bringing into sharp focus her observation that “I had reddish hair and I was too light. Everyone called me ‘that yellow girl’ and nobody wanted me, Negro or white.”
Kitt eventually was married to the estate agent Bill McDonald from 1960 to 1965 and had a daughter.