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Besides stage and cabaret, she also had a film, theatre and television career, delighting a new generation when she played Catwoman in the series Batman.
She was born out of wedlock in 1927 to a white father and a mother who was African American and Cherokee in a small town called North in South Carolina, where miscegenation was deplored.
Abandoned by her father when young, she was later placed with foster parents by her mother, who wanted to get married.
He had backed up his opinion by featuring her in a play he produced in the French capital, and is alleged to have had a torrid affair with her some years later.
It is easy to understand the impact Kitt had, for there had never been a performer quite like her.
She was later to admit that it was "a horrible flop", with Variety commenting, "Miss Kitt seems to have plenty of confidence, but she lacks pace and needs to be sharply routined. She could conceivably build a rep along novelty lines, as a coloured songstress who bases her catalogue on French tunes." Max Gordon, the enterprising owner of the Village Vanguard, spotted Kitt's potential and two months later she opened at his club to a great reception.
She then appeared at the sophisticated night club The Blue Angel on 55th Street, a haunt of such luminaries as Lena Horne, Truman Capote and Tallulah Bankhead, her repertoire including several songs with which she would become identified – "C'Est Si Bon", "I Wanna Be Evil", "Santa Baby" and "Uska Dara".
Her lithe, feline movements, the bewitchingly provocative glances from her wide-set eyes and her unique vocal style – girlishly husky with an effective use of vibrato – were truly incomparable.