Sadly, Eartha Kitt just passed. I remember her playing Catwoman on Batman back in the day. She growled and purred and clawed and even looked like a cat. Although she fit right in with the campiness of the show, it was clear that she owned that role long before she ever put on the costume.
Unfortunately, I didn't know much more about her than when she starred with Eddie Murphy as his oversexed boss in Boomerang.
"Maaaaaaaaaaaaarcus." I can still hear that voice in my nightmares.
But last year my wife bought Rhino Records' Hipster' Holiday record (which is an awesome album--especially considering the fact that I can't stand most holiday music) that features Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby."
I loved the song (people who heard it already are like "uh duh") and it made me appreciate how talented Ms. Kitt was. I've heard a couple other people sing it, but it's the same thing as Catwoman: she owns that performance.
Her voice and demeanor are similar to Nina Simone, except more playful, less angry(!) and melancholy. But they both could mesmerize an audience with an almost otherworldly presence.