Date of Birth
17 January 1927, North, South Carolina, USA
Date of Death
25 December 2008, Weston, Connecticut, USA (colon cancer)
Eartha Mae Keith
William O. McDonald (6 June 1960 - 26 March 1964) (divorced) 1 child
High pitched voice
Daughter, Kitt McDonald. Grandchildren, Justin, 8, and Rachel, 4.
Kitt's age was always a mystery, until 1998, when a group of students from her hometown in South Carolina unearthed her birth certificate. The document revealed that her true birthday is January 17, 1927.
Was virtually exiled from the United States after making anti-war statements during a White House luncheon with Lady Bird Johnson in 1968. However, she was welcomed back to the White House by Jimmy Carter who took office in January 1977.
Her husband, William O. McDonald, was a real estate developer. They were married from 1960 - 1965. They had a daughter, Kitt McDonald Shapiro.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6656 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California in 1960.
In 1968, she suffered a substantial professional setback after she made anti-war statements during a White House luncheon. It was reported that she made Lady Bird Johnson, the First Lady at the time, cry when she bluntly told her, "You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. They rebel in the street. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam." However, the public reaction to Kitt's statements was even more extreme both for and against her statements. Professionally exiled from the United States, she devoted her energies to overseas performances for nearly a decade.
Became fluent in French during her long years performing in Europe.
An aunt brought her to New York City where she attended the High School of Performing Arts, before dropping out to take on various menial jobs, including one in a factory.
Among her liaisons with wealthy men included Charles Revson, the Revlon cosmetics founder, and actor Orson Welles, who spotted her in a Paris nightclub and cast her in his Paris stage production of "Faust".
Was nominated in 1996 for a Grammy Award in traditional pop vocal performance for her album "Back in Business".
Well-known for her recordings of "Santa Baby" in the 1950s and 1960s. She died on Christmas Day 2008.
I am the original Material Girl
[on her friendship with James Dean] Jamie and I were like brother and sister. He told me, in fact, he thought of me as a sister. Our relationship was strictly platonic and spiritual.
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 me - not any one particular group. So I don't think of myself as belonging to any particular group and never have.
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.
A man has always wanted to lay me down but he never wanted to pick me up
[on Orson Welles] Orson spent most of his money on women. That's why he didn't have the money to make films.
w/ husband William (Bill) O. McDonald
w/ Harry Belafonte
(w/ Orson Welles)
Welles called Eartha "The most exciting woman on earth"