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Friday Fierceness: Eartha Kitt! | Manolo for the Big Girl

Friday Fierceness: Eartha Kitt!

I’m almost hesitant to make Eartha Kitt the Friday Fierceness.

Not because she’s not fierce, but because she passed Fierce so long ago that she lapped it twice and went straight on to Ferocious.
That Bad Eartha

Although I’d seen her before as a child in her campy ears and catsuit (sorry Ms Newmar, she was the ONLY Catwoman) and knew “Santa Baby“, Eartha Kitt burst onto my burgeoning psyche in the now oft-referenced documentary “Unzipped” when I was a sophomore in high school.

Eartha Kitt was Catwoman for only 4 episodes

Watching Ms Kitt toy with poor starstruck Isaac after one of her shows transfixed me.  He trembles to light a cigarette while she, every inch the cabaret star, whirls and writhes around him singing in what might be Turkish.

She was mesmerizing, more than a bit terrifying and completely, thoroughly and positively glamorously insane.

Speaking of:
turban
(80’s excess Eartha-style meant a series of  discopop singles that were huge in the queeneries of Europe)

A few years later I picked up her memoir “I’m Still Here: Confessions of a Sex Kitten” which is well worth reading (she took ballet with James Dean! She danced with Katherine Dunham! She was blacklisted after she made Lady Bird Johnson cry!)  is well worth reading and of course no house is complete without at least ONE of her albums —Purr-fect: Greatest Hits , mostly filled with her wry trademark paeans to Very Expensive Things– is the logical place to start.

There is so much about Eartha Kitt that’s worth knowing, and so many wonderful roles she’s played but of all the lessons we can learn from Ms Kitt, the most important is this:

Glamor is a decision. An unloved, unwanted child, a product of rape and poverty, rejected by nearly everyone because of her skin color and unusual features –her father was white and her mother was Cherokee and black– by force of will BECAME one of the most glamorous people in modern history.

We cannot, I think, always choose to be effortlessly chic or graceful or elegant just by willing ourselves to be so, but glamor? Glamor we can do. It takes will, bravery and a certain willingness to not care what other people think about unimportant matters. Do it for yourself, or more importantly…do it for Eartha.

7 Responses to “Friday Fierceness: Eartha Kitt!”

  1. sarahbyrdd November 13, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    Eartha Kitt is beyond superfantastic. I was lucky enough to see her perform live in “The Wild Party” on Broadway about 10 years ago. Even pushing 80, as she must have been then, she was sex on toast with a fabulous pair of legs.

  2. Phyllis November 13, 2009 at 10:08 pm #

    I live about fifteen miles from where she was born in South Carolina. She came back here 12 years ago, the first time since she left at age 8. Her life in that town was beyond hard. She was the epitome of class during the visit, as she was throughout her life. Her grace and beauty were innate.

  3. klee November 14, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    In the Pantheon of cool, she will be there

  4. Elizabeth November 14, 2009 at 7:17 pm #

    When I was a teenager, I found an Eartha Kitt record in my Dad’s collection. It was an epiphany for me – very different from the 80’s Christie Brinkley/Heather Locklear ideal of “sexiness.”

  5. BrooklynShoeBabe November 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    Dear Plumcake,
    I just love your Friday fierceness specials. What a great choice!

  6. Miss Janey November 19, 2009 at 8:08 pm #

    Fantastic post!