This film is part of Free

Eartha Kitt Interview

Interview with the blacklisted American entertainer and activist Eartha Kitt who purred her way to success.

Magazine and Review show 1971 3 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


In April 1971 the most uniquely feline Cat Woman ever curls up in a leopard skin chair at Gateshead's Five Bridges Hotel after the success of her cabaret show at a South Shields club. Extraordinary Eartha Kitt never skips a beat when facing a Tyne Tees TV reporter's questions that confuse her stage act with the private persona of this outspoken, blacklisted African-American entertainer, a single parent who took the Vietnam War protest all the way to the White House.

Kitt was born in 'a ramshackle arrangement of backwoods shacks' on a cotton plantation in South Carolina in 1927, the daughter of a white sharecropper who abandoned her mother. Her celebrity and charity work with ghetto youth earned Kitt an invitation to a White House lunch in 1968 hosted by Lady Bird Johnson. She embarrassed the President's wife with her frank reply to a question about youth delinquency, questioning the rationale for the Vietnam War. She was subsequently blacklisted by the CIA. With her American career on hold, she resorted to touring her show around clubs in the north of England, including Tyneside, and performed remarkable concerts in London with Rodney Bennett and the Nash Ensemble.