Friday, December 26, 2008

RIP Eartha Kitt (1927 - 2008)

RIP Eartha Kitt (1927 - 2008)

Even as I had celebrated the joys of Christmas throughout yesterday, I went to bed last night with a heavy heart after learning that the magnificent, sultry and completely irrepressible Eartha Kitt died of colon cancer.

This triple threat (actor, singer, dancer) who once dared speak her mind at the White House was 81 and one of a kind. Never one to shy away from speaking her mind or living life to its fullest, Ms. Kitt was simply wonderrrrrrrful.

Given how often I heard her 1954 classic "Santa Baby" on the radio this holiday season, it was sadly ironic that this two-time Tony nominee -- for 1978's Timbuktu! and 2000's The Wild Party -- passed away on Christmas Day.

Personally, I had two opportunities to see her perform live on stage, and I'll always cherish those memories.

The first time came in the early part of this decade when she took on the role of the Fairy Godmother as part of a color-blind cast revival that toured with Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella -- the chance to see Ms. Kitt was the sole reason I went, and despite the smallish role, she did not disappoint as she sang, "Impossible."

But the second, unforgettable time came nearly two years ago on Valentine's Day 2007. Ms. Kitt was part of a poetry reading. Not just any poetry reading, mind you, but one that featured the likes of a few other actors of note you may have heard of: Joanna Gleason, Charles Grodin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Sarandon, Joanne Woodward and the late great Paul Newman. Eartha Kitt and these other fine actors offered their own unique, individual voices on the ecstasy and agony that arguably make love life’s ultimate affection -- all as part of a mega-bite Valentine called Come Be My Love...Love Spoken Here, a fundraiser for Connecticut's venerable Westport Country Playhouse. I can still vividly recall Ms. Kitt's tender, impassioned humanity and humor, thinking how extraordinarily she made every single word dance in my ears.

During a reception after the performance, The Love of My Life and I had a unique opportunity to speak with this legendary diva, and I use that term in its true best sense. Ms. Kitt could not have been more gracious. For us, it was perrrrrrfection.

As my friend Eric in Atlanta has said, may she rrrrrrrrrrrrest in peace.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 26 December, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

What an abosolutely perrrfect remembrance. It's wonderful that you had a chance to see and meet Ms. Kitt and that she was so gracious. I'm sorry I never had a chance to see her on stage.

At 30 December, 2008, Blogger paul said...

I've always loved Eartha, but I never loved her more than when she showed us what courage she had when she stood up and told the truth about the Vietnam War. I consider myself one of the fortunate ones who was privileged to see her on stage.

At 30 December, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Paul, Like you, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been in the audience for this courageous trailblazer.


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