Seductive singer Eartha Kitt dies at 81

Thu Dec 25, 2008 6:57pm EST
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By Christopher Wilson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eartha Kitt, a sensual singer, dancer and actress who rose from modest rural roots to captivate international audiences with her sultry voice and style, died Thursday at the age of 81.

Andrew Freedman, a long-time friend and publicist, said Kitt died of colon cancer for which she was recently treated at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.

The cancer was detected about two years ago and treated but recurred after a period of remission.

"She came back strongly. She had been performing until two months ago," Freedman told Reuters by telephone from Los Angles. "We had dates booked through 2009."

Slinky and cat-like, Kitt described herself as a "sex kitten" and used her seductive purr to charm audiences across the world.

"She loved cabaret performances," Freedman said. "If there was ever an opportunity to do a small intimate venue with about 150 people, that was always her preference."

Kitt picked up a string of awards during her long career, winning two Emmys and being nominated for a third, as well as a Grammy. She also had two Tony nominations.

Kitt's hit songs included "C'est Si Bon," "Let's Do It" and "Just an Old Fashioned Girl." She also was widely associated with Christmas because of her hit "Santa Baby." The song went gold this year and she received the gold record before she died, Freedman said.   Continued...

<p>Singler Eartha Kitt arrives for a taping of the second annual TV Land Awards in Hollywood in this file photo from March 7, 2004. REUTERS/Fred Prouser FP</p>