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Celebrating 80 years

Belated birthday bash for Eartha Kitt and the Weinberg

Belated birthday bash for Eartha Kitt and the Weinberg

March 08, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

FREDERICK, Md. - Eartha Kitt turned 80 in January, but she still purrs like a kitten.

And she still tours the country and world performing, as she puts it, "Eartha Kitt kind of music."

"You can't put me in a category like jazz or pop," Kitt said in a recent phone interview from her Connecticut home. She performs standards by the likes of Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, and George and Ira Gershwin. One of her most well-known songs is "Santa Baby."

Kitt will perform Saturday night at the Weinberg Center for the Arts to celebrate her 80th birthday and the theater's 80th year. The Weinberg opened on Dec. 23, 1926, as the Tivoli Theater, a movie theater, said Susie Miller, assistant manager for the Weinberg.

Kitt said she has no plans to retire and only slowed a tad - missing one performance - last year when she dealt with colon cancer.

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"Retire to what? Boredom? What would I do with myself?" Kitt said. Performing makes her feel wanted and needed, and gives her a feeling of accomplishment, she said.

Kitt is probably best known to older generations as one of the women who portrayed Catwoman on TV's campy "Batman" in the 1960s.

The audience Saturday is likely to hear her signature "purr" from that role.

"I cannot go without doing it," she said.

Younger audiences might recognize her voice as that of Disney villain Yzma, a role she originated in the 2001 movie "The Emperor's New Groove." With Kitt's continued contributions, the franchise had a video sequel, "Kronk's New Groove," in 2005 and in 2006 became a Disney Channel TV show, "The Emperor's New School."

That's a jump from where Kitt's showbiz career started on lark.

Orphaned and sent to live with her aunt in Harlem, N.Y., Kitt said she didn't aspire to become an entertainer, but she auditioned to join Katherine Dunham's ballet troupe on a dare from a neighborhood girl. She was successful.

"That's how I got into show business, on a joke," Kitt said.

She continues to keep busy.

In February she did several performances in London and next week she starts portraying a fortune teller at the Westport Country Playhouse in "All About Us," a musical version of Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth."

And what does she portend for her future beyond the musical?

"To keep active," she said. Even when she can no longer sing, she will still be able to talk, she said.




If you go ...



WHAT: Eartha Kitt

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 10

WHERE: Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick, Md.

COST: $30 to $50 for the concert.

MORE: For tickets, call the Weinberg box office at 301-600-2828, go to www.weinbergcenter.org or stop by the box office at 20 W. Patrick St. in Frederick from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today or Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday or one hour before the show.

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