Friday, December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt: The bad girl is gone

We lost the magnificent Eartha Kitt to cancer yesterday. Sexy, smart, both simple and complicated--she could walk that good-girl/bad-girl line like no one else. (Not even Marilyn Monroe could have sold "Santa Baby" like she did.)

There are a lot of songs that are more properly considered Kitt "standards," but I always thought this one really captured the well-crafted Kitt persona:

Eartha Kitt: singer, actor, dancer, portrayer of "Catwoman," and guest star in her own two-part "Mission: Impossible" story. And she had her own CIA and FBI files standing almost as tall as she was: At a White House event hosted by Lady Bird Johnson during the Viet Nam war, she told the assembled luncheoners, "You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed."


Anonymous said...

In memory of Eartha Kitt. Marilyn never recorded this song. The version is actress, Cynthia Basinet, who comments that she was deeply inspired by Eartha.

Nothstine said...

Hey, Anonymous:

Guess I wasn't as clear as I thought. I know Marilyn didn't record it. The point of the remark was meant to be along these lines:

While Monroe also worked the bad-girl/good-girl persona, it's just as well she never bothered trying a cover of 'Evil;' Kitt owned it. 'Evil' was outside Monroe's range.

Even allowing for Kitt's obvious teasing and having fun with the song in this clip, there's still that glint in her eye that suggests a dangerous sexuality, in a way Monroe could never do. Monroe's 'bad girl' persona was a gold digger, not someone who might step on your hand with her stiletto heel.