Down to Eartha

Knocking on Eartha Kitt’s door, don’t be crushed if you don’t see the long, flirtatious lashes, the coquettish hairdo and the painted, pouty mouth purring those trademark honey-coated put-downs. Don’t expect to find the libidinous provocateur who titled her 1989 autobiography, I’m Still Here: Confessions of a Sex Kitten. Be prepared, instead, to find a woman dressed in comfy Old Navy sweats, her hair in a kerchief, and her handsome, chiseled face free of even a breath of makeup.

Meet her alter ego, Eartha Mae, the country girl who lives inside the glamorous persona. Meet the country person who decided that a four-acre estate in Weston was the place to move after a rip-roaring life that ranged from dirt-poor South Carolina farms to the wilds of 1950s Paris bohemia, from being the toast of Broadway to being a heavily marked name in FBI files. On her way to a fifty-year success story that has included two Grammys, an Emmy and three Tony nominations, a transitional figure half-way between Mae West and Madonna (indeed, Madonna covered one of her naughty hits, “Santa Baby”), Eartha remains, in the wilds of her heart, that country girl.

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