Born of mixed race parentage on a cotton plantation in South Carolina in 1927, Eartha Kitt never knew her white father, who had named her for the good harvest that year. She was given away by her mother when the man she was marrying objected to Eartha’s paleness, but when she was eight an aunt in Harlem, New York, took her in.
She began her showbusiness career as a singer and dancer with the Katherine Dunham Troupe, but while performing in Paris, she was signed up as a cabaret singer by a nightclub owner. Her feline beauty, captured so well here by Harry Hammond and the sultry voice, somewhere between a purr and a growl, quickly won her fame and admirers. She went on to make a career not only as a singer, but as a respected actress too. As an American paper reported, ‘Now in her fifth decade of making men nervous, Eartha Kitt still electrifies audiences with her one-of-a-kind persona, peppering her flirty set with gold-digging songs about champagne, stretch limos, and pearls’.