Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Eartha Kitt is so much more than Catwoman

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Eartha Kitt, 79, has been singing and dancing for more than 60 years. She says she sees herself as belonging to everyone, as the public has made her who she is. (MPR photo/Euan Kerr)

St. Paul, Minn. — Say the name Eartha Kitt to a certain generation of Americans, and they will immediately think of Catwoman. Yet Miss Kitt's career, which spans six decades, is about so much more than a brief role on the 1960 Batman television series. She has one of the most distinctive voices in show business.

Eartha Kitt didn't intend to be an entertainer. But while she was a teenager living in Harlem, a friend dared her to attend an audition for the Katherine Dunham Dance Company. Her self-taught dance moves won a scholarship on the spot, and Eartha Kitt embarked on a tour to Mexico and Europe.

Just years later, with a growing reputation as a multilingual singer, she struck off on her own, living in Paris, and working with the likes of Orson Welles who described her as "the most exciting woman in the world."

In the years since she has toured the world, made movies, and was even blacklisted for speaking out against the Vietnam War at a White House lunch.

Kitt, now 79, performs Friday and Saturday nights with the Minnesota Orchestra. With so many people seeing her in so many different ways -- a singer, a dancer, even Catwoman -- Minnesota Public Radio's Euan Kerr asked her how she defines herself.

To listen to their interview, choose the audio link in the right column.

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