The Playbill Vault Remembers Tony Nominee Eartha Kitt

By Megan Dekic
25 Dec 2013

Legendary singer-actress Eartha Kitt, who was twice nominated for a Tony Award, died Dec. 25, 2008, at the age of 81. The Playbill Vault looks back at some of her most memorable Broadway performances.

Kitt began her career as a member of the Katherine Dunham Company, a groundbreaking African American modern dance troupe whose work influenced prominent dance figures like Alvin Ailey.

After dancing on Broadway in Katherine Dunham's productions of Carib Song and Bal Negre, Kitt garnered critical attention with her turn in New Faces of 1952. Featuring sketches by Mel Brooks and music by Sheldon Harnick, the musical revue opened May 16, 1952, with then newcomers Alice Ghostley, Carol Lawrence and Paul Lynde.

Kitt stole the show with "Monotonous" and "Bal, Petit Bal," two songs she would later become known for. In his New York Times review, Brooks Atkinson wrote: "Eartha Kitt not only looks incendiary but she can make a song burst into flame." The revue ran for 365 performances at the Royale Theatre.

Read the New Faces of 1952 Playbill here.