VERVE: Kitt Comes Home (1997) | ETV Classics

Beryl Dakers, host of VERVE! a monthly arts magazine, caught up with the sultry performer Eartha Kitt during her long-awaited return to South Carolina. Born in North, South Carolina, Kitt was abandoned by her mother at an early age. She experienced several foster homes before being sent to live with her aunt in Harlem, New York.

In a standing room crowd at Benedict College, Kitt states...

"I do appreciate very much this day. I had no idea how I would feel coming home. l left in tears but it seems I've come home to love... I want to thank all of you for the gifts you have given me. I can now say I have been in over 180 countries of this world. I can very honestly say that today above all days, you have made me inextricably proud to say I'm a South Carolinian."

Despite a difficult start in life, Kitt became one of the most iconic and unforgettable performers of the 20th century.  This triple threat could sing, dance and act, the ultimate performer. She starred in Broadway shows like New Faces of 1952 and Mrs. Patterson.  Some of her popular film and television roles include Anna and the King of Siam, The Emperor's New Groove, and as Catwoman in the third and final season of Batman, the TV series. 

More than just a performer, Eartha was also known for her activism, not afraid to speak out against social injustices. She’d been known not to perform to segregated audiences. 

As she grew older, Eartha continued to perform and act, captivating audiences until her death in 2008 at the age of 81. She left behind a legacy of unforgettable performances, but also a legacy of activism. 

Side Note:

During Christmas, you probably have heard Eartha Kitt's voice on the iconic song, "Santa Baby." 

For more women's history content, check out the Women's History Month page.  Visit the digital series, ETV Classics, to watch more gems from South Carolina ETV's vault.

"January seventeenth of each year, the birthday of the late actress, singer, and native South Carolinian Eartha Mae Kitt, is declared to be "Eartha Kitt Day" in South Carolina."  View more from the Universal Citation: SC Code § 53-3-75 (2022).