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Eartha Mae Kitt (January 17, 1927 – December 25, 2008) was an actress, singer, and cabaret star. She was perhaps best known for her 1953 Christmas song "Santa Baby". Orson Welles once called her the "most exciting woman in the world". She took over the role of Catwoman in the 1960s Batman TV series, replacing Julie Newmar who was unavailable for the rest of the series.
In 1950, Orson Welles gave her her first starring role, as Helen of Troy in his staging of Dr. Faustus. A few years later, she was cast in the revue New Faces of 1952 introducing "Monotonous" and "Bal, Petit Bal," two songs with which she continues to be identified. In 1954, 20th Century Fox filmed a version of the revue simply titled New Faces. Welles and Kitt allegedly had a torrid affair during her run in Shinbone Alley, which earned her the nickname by Welles as "the most exciting woman in the world." In 1958, Kitt made her feature film debut opposite Sidney Poitier in The Mark of the Hawk. Throughout the rest of the 1950s and early 1960s, Kitt would work on and off in film, television and on nightclub stages. In 1964, Kitt helped open the Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, California. Also in the 1960s, the television series Batman, featured her as Catwoman after Julie Newmar left the role.
In 1968, however, Kitt encountered a substantial professional setback after she made anti-war statements during a White House luncheon. It was reported that she made First Lady Lady Bird Johnson cry. The public reaction to Kitt's statements was much more extreme, both for and against her statements. Professionally exiled from the U.S., she devoted her energies to overseas performances.
She would go on to create more pop hits and to star in other movies in later years like Eddie Murphy's Boomerang.