December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt, 1927-2008

Five years ago, I listened to an audiobook version of Eartha Kitt's book, Rejuvenate, It's Never Too Late. Kitt was born two years before my mother and outlived her by five. These two women shared few similarities, but I learned a lot about how to live life on one's own terms by listening to Kitt's story.

Most interesting were her perspectives on growing old(er) and staying physically and mentally energized. Although Kitt made some life choices that don't agree with some of my values, I appreciated her determination to view herself as a human person, first and foremost. Although she did not deny her heritage, she struggled to keep others from limiting her dreams and aspirations based on her color and class background.

Kitt traveled widely during the 1950s and 1960s and I enjoyed listening to her accounts of requesting and obtaining meetings with world leaders and opinion makers, including Einstein. She learned something from all of these people, and shared these insights with her readers. I particularly admired her determination to learn chess and enjoyed her description of outplaying an old boyfriend who arrogantly announced she could never beat him at the game.

Yes, she called herself a "sex kitten" and used that image to promote her career. But she was a lot more than her image. Rest in peace, Eartha Kitt.

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