Eartha Kitt dies of cancer

The singing and acting legend was 81

American singer and actress Eartha Kitt has died at the age 81 of colon cancer.

Andrew Freedman, a close friend, confirmed the star, most famous for playing Catwoman in the ’60s, passed away earlier today (December 25) in New York, reports AP.

She had recently be treated at the city’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Musically, Kitt, who was born on January 17, 1927 in North, South Carolina was renowned for her sultry, ‘kitten purr’ of a voice, especially on the 1963 Christmas song ‘Santa Baby’.

The star also got a whole new following in the ’80s after scoring a UK Top 40 hit in 1984 with the disco-flavoured ‘Where Is My Man’ and then later worked with Bronski Beat on 1989’s ‘Cha-Cha Heels’, another UK hit. In her later life, she was a stalwart of the Manhattan cabaret scene.

The versatile Kitt was one of the few artists to be nominated in the Tony, Grammy and Emmy award categories (she won two of the latter).

In her early movie career, Kitt worked under the greats like Orson Welles (in 1950’s ‘Dr Faustus’).

The legend was rumoured to have had an affair with her and called her “the most exciting woman in the world”. Kitt was most renowned for playing Catwoman in the ’60s version of the ‘Batman’ TV series.

The star was also infamously blacklisted in the US in the same decade at the height of her fame, in 1968, for speaking out against the war in Vietnam at a White House function. As a result, she switched to performing more overseas.