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“K” is for Kitt, Eartha (1927-2008)

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“K” is for Kitt, Eartha (1927-2008). Actress, singer. Kitt was born in St. Matthews, the daughter of a Black mother and an unknown White father. At age eight she was sent to New York to live with an aunt. She attended Metropolitan High School (later the New York School of Performing Arts). At sixteen, she ran away from home and joined the all-Black Kathleen Durham dance troupe—touring South America and Europe. By 1949 Kitt’s sultry voice had made her a popular cabaret singer in major European and American cities. The feisty Kitt, projecting the image of a “sex kitten,” drew critical acclaim on the stage in Paris. She taught herself to sing in ten languages, including Turkish and Hebrew. Later, Eartha Kitt starred in movies and recorded such teasing pop song hits as “C’est Si Bon.”

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.