Author Topic: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT  (Read 6769 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« on: December 27, 2008, 10:29:47 am »
I am so grateful to have worked with Eartha Kitt.  Life a lot of folks of my generation I first knew of her from her appearances as Catwoman on the 60’s Batman TV series and her holiday classic “Santa Baby”.    I also heard she had dated Orson Welles and cursed out the First Lady over Viet Nam during a visit to the White House, and that her career had suffered as a result. All that made me admire her, but at the same time, I was intimidated. 

When we were casting BOOMERANG, there was no doubt she was the only person who could play Lady Eloise.  We offered her the part, but she had reservations about the role.  Well, she told us no.  So my brother and I called her in Germany, where she was doing a local production of FOLLIES, to ask her why. 

She found the part insulting to elders, so we agreed to make some changes (I can’t remember what it was, but I didn’t like it either) and told her we would work the rest out together).  She was tough on the phone.  But eventually she agreed. 

Whatever her initial hesitations, she KILLED it in every take of the film.  She knew exactly how to play every scene and was hilarious.  Her bedroom seduction scene with Eddie was so perfect, in part because Eddie really was uncomfortable and she was so uninhibited. 

I am eternally grateful to my hair and makeup team for making sure Eartha felt like the royalty she was.  They gave her temple and hand massages.  She would lift herself out of the make up chair by locking her arms, shooting her legs straight out like a gymnast’s. How many of us can do that at half her age? 

The moment I will never forget was when Grace Jones and Eartha Kitt finally met.  “You’re doing me, but you’re doing it wrong”…and Eartha proceeded to teach Grace how to do her purr/growl to perfection.   I was so proud I created the circumstance for this historic meeting of international sex symbol singing icons. 

After BOOMERANG, I kept trying to find another project for us to do together.  I also kept researching her history. Turns out she’s from St. Louis, right across the river from me.  She got her start in Katharine Dunham’s dance troupe.  Ms Dunham changed the lives of our entire family with her efforts in East St. Louis, so there was another connection.  Apparently she jumped ship from the dance troupe during their historic set of performances in Paris.  It was the same show where Josephine Baker showed up walking down the aisle (late of course) to disrupt the show and remind the city she was the true black diva of Paris. 

I bought one of her old albums, which had I WANT TO BE EVIL and C’EST SI BON on it.  Banging. I heard the story about her booking the Apollo.  Everyone told her don’t do it, no one was going to show up because the black community either didn’t know who she was or didn’t like her because was too mainstream an artist.  Then she pulls up to the theatre and there’s a line around the block, which made her cry.   

Then I went to see her perform at Café Carlyle.  The Carlyle is a tiny room…and I had never been to a cabaret show before.  She gave an amazing show…but then spotted me half way through the show.  She stopped everything and asked “YOU.  What are YOU doing here?” 

She proceeded to basically “do” the entire show (with all the flirtation, etc) to me.  Both embarrassing and flattering.  She later gave me a lovely introduction and we went up to her room at the hotel talked afterward.  Her daughter Kitt was with her, and she talked about her grandkids.  She lived for her family. 

Losing Eartha Kitt, Bernie Mac and Jheryl Busby all in the same year reminds me a) how old I am b) how lucky I am to have known and worked with all these amazing talents,  and c) I need to get back to work so I can work with more greats like these. 

rh

Offline Lion

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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2008, 11:57:50 am »
Eartha - the one and only Catwoman. For her to play that role at the time she did it and basically be remembered as the one who KILLED it. None of the people to don the suit in the show or in any movie owned the part as she did. She WAS Catwoman.

She's a legend and she will always be remembered.

Offline karaszero

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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2008, 03:51:09 pm »
My introduction to Broadway plays was seeing Eartha Kitt in TIMBUKTU i was in awe of her talent

Offline Battle

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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2008, 07:57:46 am »
If anyone didn't know who Ms. Eartha Kitt was, I'd say they were lying or just not with it. She's had many roles in her illustrious, acting career but to me she was...
Best known as the seductive Catwoman in Batman...
...Lady Eloise in Boomerang...

The first known Black Disney villain-ess, Yzma in Emporer's New Groove. A classy, conniving wench...

...and as cute and cuddley as a kitten.

Eartha Kitt
1927-2008
« Last Edit: December 29, 2008, 02:28:46 pm by Battle »

Offline Cage

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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2008, 08:35:57 am »
Great stuff Reggie.
I ventured into the courtyard followed by 52 brothers bruised battered and scarred but hard.

Offline Mastrmynd

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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2008, 09:26:14 am »
thank you for this reg.
i don't know what else to say...
keep doing what you love brother.
do it!
i wish you and your family a blessed and prosperous 2009... and i'm sorry for your losses this year.


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Right on to the real and death to the fakers!  Peace out!

Offline Catch22

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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2008, 01:07:26 pm »
She did, indeed, kill it in Boomerang.  The scene between Eddie Muphy and Eartha Kitt was one of the funniest in the movie.  Ms. Kitt's portrayal of Catwoman in the Batman series was sexy and seductive.  She was one of a kind.

Offline Magic Wand

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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2008, 05:45:17 pm »
Thank you for this insider's scoop on Catwoman, Reg.
I had no idea she'd danced with Katherine Dunham as well!
Wow!!
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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2008, 06:56:26 am »
Out of all of Eartha's roles and all her lines, my favorite has to be the following:

"A llama!? He's supposed to be DEAD!!!"

The fact that Eartha went out on top - two Emmys in two years (and a third posthumous one all but guaranteed) makes me smile so much. Eartha stayed true to herself and her beliefs, as hard as it must have been, and it was rewarded in the end. She went to her grave knowing that she never bowed or scraped. We should all be so lucky.

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2008, 07:58:46 am »


The fact that Eartha went out on top - two Emmys in two years (and a third posthumous one all but guaranteed) makes me smile so much. Eartha stayed true to herself and her beliefs, as hard as it must have been, and it was rewarded in the end. She went to her grave knowing that she never bowed or scraped. We should all be so lucky.

Well put.  She did it her way and won.

Offline Cheirel

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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2009, 07:28:51 pm »
My heart is warmed. I'm really glad that I clicked on this story. She was truly a wonderful person and had alot of gumption.
Even after being B-listed she still kept going. She had stories upon stories of how nothing and none would and could make her be anyone but herself.
You have got to admire and love a woman for that. Especially staying "sexy" as she did throughout the years.


Offline stanleyballard

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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2009, 10:28:59 pm »
Thanks for sharing....remember seeing Boomerang back in the 90s.....Ms. Kitt was a powerful prescence throughout her career.

Offline JRCarter

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Re: HUDLIN'S HUDDLE - EARTHA KITT
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2009, 06:25:56 pm »
Her life would make one hell of a movie.