Legendary Performer
Music, Film, Theater, Cabaret, and TV Star

Eartha Kitt
Wednesday, March 2, 2005 1:00 PM

Eartha Kitt was online Wednesday, March 2, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss her career and latest projects and also maybe purr like a cat.

Listen to : Eartha Kitt.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


washingtonpost.com: Eartha Kitt, welcome to washingtonpost.com. We're glad to have you with us. You're going to be playing Blues Alley this week. What can people expect from your cabaret act?

Eartha Kitt: The usual Eartha Kitt cabaret act. Funny songs and dramatic songs and some that I haven't done before. I'll be there for four days, Thursday through Sunday, which is March 3, 4, 5 and 6. I'm very happy to be going back to Washington because I have a lot of friends and fans there.


Arlington, Va.: There's a new "Batman" movie coming out. What do you think of all the movies? Is there room for another one? Would you like to be in one of the new ones?

Eartha Kitt: Of course I'd love to be in one of them but what character would I play except the one I played before? But this time an adviser to whoever is Catwoman.
I haven't seen the "Batman" movies because when you go out to the movies and someone recognizes you you can't enjoy the movie anymore, so I wait for the videos to come out. But at the same time, I do not think that any of these movies can beat the television series.


Alexandria, Va.: You played a singer in an episode of "I Spy" in 1965-66 and your character was romantically paired with Bill Cosby.

Did you feel it was a big deal at that time for a TV show to have a black co-star?

Eartha Kitt: Yes, because it was not happening as readily as it is happening now and I'm very glad that it is happening now because it seems like we have more of a chance now than we did then to play larger parts without acting in a negative way because I'm always thinking in terms of how we are being perceived by everybody, especially by the brown skinned people of the world.


Washington, D.C.: Best. Catwoman. Ever.

I loved you as Yzma in "The Emperor's New Groove," too. What can I look forward to next?

Eartha Kitt: More "Emperor's New Groove" as well as a television series called "The Emperor's New School." I'm currently doing voice-overs for "The Emperor's New Groove 2"as well as doing the voice-overs for "School." "School" is about Yzma becoming principal of the school and she prevents Kusco from winning any of the sports games because if he wins the games, he gets to be emperor and if he loses, Yzma becomes the emperor. That's what she's aiming for.
Disney has picked 24 episodes of "The Emperor's New School."
"My Life as a Teenage Robot" is another project I'm working on for Nickelodeon.
Plus, I'm always doing my one-woman cabaret show and when I go out I'm always looking for ideas for my show.
I'm also writing animal story books about my cats and my two dogs, Abba and Mutzi, miniature toy poodles.


Bowie, Md.: Hello, Mrs. Kitt
How did you break into the business and what advice do you have for someone who is trying to get into the business?

Eartha Kitt: I got into the business because somebody dared me to do an audition for a ballet company and I took the dare and won a full scholarship. And I've been here ever since.
I think it's easier to get into the business today except for the unions. I'm sorry to say this, but you don't need that much talent to get into show business these days. Today it's more what you look like rather than what you have to offer.


Washington, D.C.: In the past you have been vocal about war. I'm referring to Vietnam. How do you feel about the war in Iraq?

Eartha Kitt: This is not a war against people -- it's a war against the terrorists. And even though I'm not for wars sometimes you have to fight fire with fire in order to get the right thing done, such as giving people the right to vote and dignity and get rid of oppression. That's what we did in my country (USA)and we seem to be doing very well. And we even had a civil war over it -- the right to have people free.
But like I say, I'm not for war, but sometimes you have to do is the right thing to do and I think what is working in areas like Iraq, the Middle East, seems to be worth it because people now are getting up and doing things for themselves.


Fairfax, Va.: What is the at-home Eartha Kitt like? Anything like your public self?

Eartha Kitt: I know I shouldn't be revealing how I am at home but I do my needlepoint and my whole house is needlepointed -- furniture, rugs, dolls, everything is needlepointed and if I don't find something to do with my hands ... reading, right now I'm reading a book called "Treachery" by Bill Gertz and also "The Two Faces of Islam," so that I can have a better understanding as to why psychologically they are behaving the way they do. I think this is one of the things that we in the western world -- especially in the United States, it seems to me -- do not have enough interest in other cultures in order for us to understand and appreciate the differences rather than fight the differences or try to oppress the differences. Like we've always said, no matter what religious leader comes along, learn to live with one another and do unto others as we would have them do unto us. We don't live by The Ten Commandments it seems.


Crofton, Md.: Hello. My wife, her brother and I caught your show at Blues Alley several years ago. We had front-row seats. We're part of the hip-hop generation but found your act so classy, so entertaining and so sexy we couldn't believe a woman over 70 could be so hip! What's the key to aging so well? Is it diet, exercise, your mental outlook on life or what? Eartha Kitt: All of the above. Like I say, I'm interested in everything that's out there to learn from.


Philadelphia, Pa.: Do you have any plans for future recordings? If so, have you picked some songs, and what are some of the titles we might have to look forward to?

Eartha Kitt: I am interested in recording but you have to have a strong distributor who is interested in what you're doing because now the business has gotten so businesslike that they're not thinking about ethics anymore, it's all about the money. I realize money is important but not in a prostitutional manner. It's hype, hype, hype rather than value, value, value. Of course, there's always an exception to the rule.
If there are people out there who want me to make another album, please let me know by going to my Web site, earthakitt.com.


Washington, D.C.: Do you get tired of the compliments people give you all the time about how great an entertainer you are and how in shape and good-looking you are?

Eartha Kitt: Oh, I'm very grateful for that. No, I don't get tired of that. I'm just happy that I'm being received that way. That's why I always try to take care of myself because when I'm seen by my public I always want them to be proud of the fact that I have bothered because they pay me to be Eartha Kitt. My fans keep me alive that way.


Washington, D.C.: Hello Ms. Kitt,
My book club is reading your autobiography, "Confessions of a Sex Kitten." You literally came from grinding poverty, so I was wondering if you always felt that you were destined for great things.

Eartha Kitt: No. That little urchin cotton picker from the South, Eartha Mae, still feels that way.


College Park, Md.: You have sort of straddled both races in your appeal to audiences. What do you attribute this to?

Eartha Kitt: Because I don't carry myself as a black person but as a woman that belongs to everybody. After all, it's the general public that made -- not any one particular group. So I don't think of myself as belonging to any particular group and never have.


Rock Hill, S.C.: I recently read your book on fitness; in an effort to gain information on how to motivate my grandmother to lose weight. Despite this she refuses to work out. What, if any are your suggestions?

Eartha Kitt: Walking. Anybody can walk and she doesn't have to be fanatical about anything. Just walk, walk, walk, walk and my motto is, "Eat less, walk more and laugh a lot." But be sure you're eating the right kind of food. I've always said to my daughter to stay away from packaged goods although packaged goods are getting better these days but processed foods have never been good for anybody as far as I'm concerned. If you read about the guy who ate McDonald's for how many months? and how fat he got and sick ... everything went wrong ... because he wasn't eating the right kind of foods. He proved that junk food breeds junk minds. Just because something tastes good doesn't mean it's good for you.


Eartha Kitt: This doesn't mean that I don't ever eat it because I my favorite candy bar is the Snickers bar. The giant ones --not the small ones. They don't have enough peanuts. And I think the reason why I like the candies with the nuts in them -- the almonds -- because it makes me feel I'm not cheating because I'm also getting nourishment from the nuts. Otherwise, everything else is empty calories.
Now I've turned to dark chocolate with almonds but not a lot of it at one time. Here again, just because it tastes good doesn't mean it's good for you.


Capitol Heights, Md.: Growl! Back at you!
MS. Kitt, did you come from a big family? I have 11 sisters and two brothers myself.

Eartha Kitt: No. I'm an orphan. But the public has adopted me and that has been my only family. The biggest family in the world is my fans.


Washington, D.C.: Where do you reside and how do you deal with the paparazzi? If any ...

Eartha Kitt: I reside in Connecticut because I love the outdoor living. Right now it's all covered in snow so I've done my cross-country walking around the house outside with the snow shoes that my daughter gave me on my 78th birthday. I live on four acres of land so there's a lot of room out there for me.
There is a lot of respect that the paparazzi have for me and I'm very grateful for that. They photograph me only when they ask permission to do so. They are respectful of me because they know I'm a very private person and are aware of the kind of life I live. I don't look for negative publicity, even though that seems to be what makes more money these days. I love the paparazzi. We need each other because without them, where would we be?


Washington, D.C.: You have performed with great people, Cab Calloway, Ruby Dee, Ella Fitzgerald Pearl Bailey, etc., etc., etc. Mrs. Kitt, How is old Hollywood different from Hollywood today?

Eartha Kitt: Hype. That's what the business is, mainly. It seems we don't have those wonderful personalities anymore.


Washington, D.C.: I saw you in "Wild Party" on Broadway. You were excellent. Afterward on the sidewalk you signed autographs and took pictures with everyone who wanted one. You are the most gracious 'star" I have ever seen at a stage door. Is there any more Broadway in your future, and will you sign my picture at Blues Alley on Sunday night when I come to see you?

Eartha Kitt: Yes, of course I will sign whatever you have. Of course, we're always in the running for Broadway but nothing seems to be available for me right now but I'm hoping my one-woman show will be on Broadway sometime soon.


Dahlgren, Va. : I just wanted to tell you that I have adorned you from afar for many years. Thank you for for becoming an American icon. Can you tell me about your reaction to the Oscar wins for Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman?

Eartha Kitt: I thought both were absolutely marvelous. I like their work very much. I also feel that it's time that people of color start to break into the area of being recognized for their work -- not because of their color.
But it does encourage others of color that we're getting there, that we're progressing.


Laurel, Md.: Miss Kitt:
Your accent! Did you come out of the South speaking with that accent? Did you teach it to yourself? How did you come from the poor side of the tracks speaking like you were from the upper, upper, upper of the upper class? Thanks.

Eartha Kitt: Because I bothered to educate myself. I was always interested in learning how to speak properly so that once you learn how to speak the language properly you can fall into any area of the language that is called for as a character. I don't think of myself as having an accent. Maybe people think I do but I don't think I do at all.
It may be because I didn't mature in the U.S. I was mainly in Europe.


Eartha Kitt: I want to thank my fans for being online with me and please come and see me at Blues Alley in Washington. I'm very grateful to my fans for keeping me alive because if it wasn't for you -- my fans -- maybe I would still be in the cotton fields of South Carolina.


© 2005 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive