Friday, December 26, 2008

The Good Eartha

A sad day, darlings; we're all writing about her, and well we ought to be. The one and only Eartha has gone and left us.

How characteristic of her, too, to slip away on Christmas day, guaranteeing that we would as much celebrate as mourn her. Certainly, it's just as she would have had it, for few entertainers were such thorough celebrators as Miss Kitt: of sex, of life, of love, of all the pleasures of the flesh and spirit.

She had, onstage, the kind of matchless self-confidence that comes with being known as "the most exciting woman in the world." She could, with a glance, a gesture, a shrug, be the most bewitching creature you ever beheld, whether in sequins and feathers or reclining in a hotel armchair.

But she could also kick it up with the best of them, high-spirited and feisty and probably, at the occasional moment now and then, a little tempestuous. Poor Lady Bird Johnson found her so, but Jo Ann Worley would seem to have been a kindred spirit.

And through it all, from little clubs to New Faces of 1952 to Hollywood to television to exile to Broadway to discos to cabaret and even, however unlikely, to a new incarnation as a Disney villainess, she worked. I feel so lucky to have seen her in several of these guises, most often at the wonderful Café Carlyle.

She ruled that place, flirting and purring and whispering and shouting, singing songs old and new, seemingly as the mood struck but clearly with an enormous amount of dedication and preparation.

I don't really believe I won't see her there again and have the chance to hear what for a while was her closing number, a song she sung in such a way that it was autobiography: hers, yes, but somehow of everyone lucky enough to be her audience:

Here’s To Life
(Lyrics - Phyllis Molinary, Music - Artie Butler)

No complaints and no regrets;
I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets.
And I have learned that all you give is all you get,
So give it all you've got.

I had my share, I drank my fill,
And even though I'm satisfied, I'm hungry still -
To see what's down another road, beyond a hill,
And do it all again

So here's to life!
And every joy it brings...
Here's to life!
To dreamers and their dreams...

Funny how the time just flies,
How love can go from warm hellos to sad goodbyes -
And leave you with the memories you've memorized,
To keep your winters warm.

But there's no yes in yesterday -
And who knows what tomorrow brings, or takes away;
As long as I'm still in the game, I want to play
For laughs, for life, for love.

So here's to life!
And every joy it brings...
Here's to life!
To dreamers and their dreams -
May all your storms be weathered;
And all that's good get better;

Here's to life -
Here's to love -
And here's to you...

She meant every word of it, and had 81 astonishing years to show for it. Here's to the old trouper, and let's hope she's raising hell in some celestial supper club even now, making balding, middle-aged business seraphim sitting ringside blush to "Just an Old Fashioned Girl" just like she did at the Carlye.


  1. Leave it to dear Muscato to find a picture of Miss Kitt with Miss Worley!

  2. i have commented on other blogs, but she will be missed...remember muscato, when you mentioned kitty carlisle? it's so sad losing the people of that generation. our lives are a bit dimmer because of their passing. they will not pass this way again....our loss...

  3. Thombeau -- It's like spotting a unicorn!

    I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that I really am stunned by Miss Kitt's passing; she was someone you counted on being around for...well, forever.


    "if you don't get cha cha heels.. i'll walk all over you"