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Rapp on Jazz: Eartha Kitt

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Eartha Kitt, the globally-recognized singer, actor, comedian, dancer, and political activist, was born Earth Mae Keith in the small town of North, SC, in 1927.

She overcame a difficult childhood and moved to New York in her teens, adopting the name Kitt from her relative who took her in. She thrived there, debuting on Broadway in 1945's "Carib Song." By the early 1950s, she was topping charts with her renditions of "C'est Si Bon" and "Santa Baby." Kitt soon went from stage stardom to films and TV, including the role of Catwoman in the 1960s "Batman" series.

Kitt's career in the US stalled for a period a time after she made comments critical of the Vietnam War to Lady Bird Johnson during an event at the White House in 1968. Kitt later triumphed again on Broadway in the 1978 production of "Timbuktu!" and earned Emmys for her work on children's shows in her later years.

This has been Rapp on Jazz, a co-production of the ColaJazz Foundation and SC Public Radio. Support for this program is made possible in part by Fox Music House of Columbia and Charleston.