Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt (1978)
Duration: 00:30:03

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Themes: Sports and Entertainment |

Guests: Eartha Kitt
Host : Ron Scott
Producer : Tony Mottley
Associate Producer : Deborah Ray

Summary: At the time of this 1978 program, Kitt was preparing to return to the Broadway stage in the show, Timbuktu. The show marked her reemergence, in a prominent way, on the American show business scene after almost a decade in which she had been shunned for an act of political outspokenness.

Kitt talks with Scott about the widely publicized incident in 1968 when she spoke out against the Vietnam War at a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson, the president's wife. Although the luncheon was intended to focus on the problem of juvenile delinquency, Kitt says she felt compelled to speak out when other attendees focused on such solutions as more street lighting or beautifying urban ghettoes with window flower boxes.

"You have to find the core of the matter," she says. So she spoke about the problems arising from drafting urban youths, sending them to war, and then cutting them loose on their return. The resulting controversy left her unable to find work in America and prompted her to move to France for about six years. Still, she says, she does not regret speaking what she considered to be the truth.

"Even though I love this country . . . I want this country to fulfill its promises," she says with her eyes watering. "We never got the freedom. They only took the chains off. But they never allowed my soul to exercise itself like a decent human being, and that's what I'm fighting for, for all of us."

Kitt also talks about her work with young people in Harlem, Watts and Washington, D.C., as well as her encounters with such luminaries as Paul Robeson, Indira Gandhi, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas and Albert Einstein.

The program offers a very intimate perspective on Kitt, her passionate intensity, her wit and the personal philosophy that has driven her remarkable career.

Related Production Materials held at MSU Libraries, Special Collections:
Box 1, File 13 Eartha Kit - 1978
Box 1, File 18, Music – Detroit Style – February 19, 1980
Box 5, File 13, Blacks in the Performing Arts – March 2, 1992 – Show # 2318
Box 13, Photographs
Box 15, File 11, Black Music Shows
Box 19, File 16, Musician Bios.