Thursday, February 13, 2014

Savory Ertha

Just like a sultry red rose to be admired on Valentine's Day, Ertha Kitt's a gift that, as intended by nature, also comes with thorns that demand respect.  

By her own remembrances, she grew up with extremely low self-esteem.  How did she cope? She focused herself into a dream-type fantasy world and created a vision of herself.  Along the way, she became many a gay man's icon.  It's been said that Valentine's Day was a favorite holiday of Ertha Kitt, who knew the difference between passion and love:

"We can't control the people we love.  Everything else really comes down to risks and rewards."

When someone live through hard times, sometimes they get lucky and move on, but they never forget.  Life stacked the deck against Ertha from an early age. She was labeled a 'yella gal' from birth (due to her mixed heritage skin color and living in the south).  Eartha never knew her father, she was abandoned by her mother at an early age (in favor of her darker sibling), and was raised by another family that ignored her. 

A self-proclaimed 'sex kitten,' Ertha was famous for her catlike purrrrr.  Her career spanned over six decades, from her start as a dancer, to cabarets and acting and singing on stage, and later appearing in movies and on television.  Ms. Kitt was one of America's most versatile performers, winning two Emmys. She also nominated for several Tonys and also for two Grammys.  She made headlines in the 1960's for denouncing the Vietnam War during a visit to the White House.  The next ten years found her blacklisted in the United States.. Her career continued to soar, however, during her exile in Europe until 1976, when President Jimmy Carter invited her back to the United States. 

One title Ms. Kitt was proud of was her being awarded the title of "Gay Icon". Later in life Eartha Kitt would say: "After my blacklisting, it was the Gay community that welcomed me back with open arms." This was something she never forgot and spent a great deal of her time dedicating herself to working with the Gay Men's Health Crisis and other AIDS charities.dded Kitt, "I feel very close to the gay crowd because we know what it feels like to be rejected."
Kitt’s sentiments in that interview are still topical now. Speaking on the subject of marriage equality for gay and lesbian families, Kitt said, "I support it because we’re asking for the same thing."

"If I have a partner and something happens to me, I want that partner to enjoy the benefits of what we have reaped together." Added the world-famous performer, "It’s a civil-rights thing, isn’t it?"

Eartha Kitt became known as an international symbol of elegance and sensuality during her lifetime.   She died on Christmas Day 2008.

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