This hour long, one-on-one interview program provided an inside look into the life and career of legendary actress and singer Eartha Kitt. Taped on September 20, 2008 in front of a packed audience at Northwestern University Law School’s Thorne Auditorium, An Evening With Eartha Kitt featured PBS-TV veteran journalist Gwen Ifill as the program host and interviewer.
Eartha Kitt distinguished herself in film, theater, cabaret, music and on television. The interview covered Kitt’s childhood, her musical and acting career in the U.S. and abroad, working with such greats as Sidney Poitier and Orson Welles, her career on Broadway and her role as Catwoman on the 1960s live-action Batman television series.
Eartha Kitt was an international star who gave new meaning to the word versatile. This interview was enlightening, engaging and provided rich insight into one of enterainment’s all-time greats. The program concluded with Eartha Kitt singing “Ain’t Misbehavin,’” “La Vie En Rose” and “Here’s to Life.” An Evening With Eartha Kitt marked Kitt’s last live performance of her career.
Eartha Kitt’s career spanned over six decades making her legendary in the world of entertainment. Growing up in South Carolina during the Great Depression, Kitt eventually moved to New York City where she started her career as a Katherine Dunham Dancer. Performing in Blue Holiday, Bal Negre, and Casbah allowed Kitt to travel the world, prompting her to leave the Dunham Dance Troupe to pursue a solo career. In Paris, Kitt played Helen of Troy in Orson Welles’ production of Faust. Welles called Kitt the most exciting woman in the world. Returning to America, Kitt performed in New Faces of 1952, and appeared on the silver screen in: St. Louis Blues, Ana Lucasta, The Mark of the Hawk, and Boomerang. In 1953, Kitt signed a five year recording contract with RCA records.
Kitt was not just an entertainer; she was also the author of three autobiographies, Thursday’s Child, Alone With Me, and Confessions of a Sex Kitten, as well as a health book, Rejuvenate! It’s Never Too Late. Kitt voiced Yzma in Disney's The Emperor’s New Groove and the film's spin off, The Emperor’s New School.
Kitt passed away in 2008.
Pioneering journalist Gwen Ifill was born in Queens, New York in 1955. After earning her B.A. degree in Communications from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1977, she was hired by The Boston Herald American in the midst of the city’s notorious busing crisis. After joining the Baltimore Evening Sun, she moved to covering national politics. In 1984, Ifill was hired by The Washington Post; and in 1991, she became the White House correspondent for The New York Times. In 1994, she was named the chief congressional correspondent for NBC, and in 1999, she became the moderator of PBS’ Washington Week in Review, as well as a correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. In October of 2004, Ifill became the first African American woman to moderate a vice presidential debate. Her first book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, was published in 2009.
In 2011, Ifill served as the moderator for the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. She is the recipient of more than a dozen honorary doctorates and several broadcasting excellence awards, including honors from the National Press Foundation, Ebony magazine, the Radio Television News Directors Association, and American Women in Radio and Television. Ifill also interviewed Diahann Carroll, Quincy Jones, Eartha Kitt and Smokey Robinson for The HistoryMakers annual PBS-TV An Evening With…series.
Ifill passed away in 2016.
Northwestern University School of Law
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