This is both sad and ironic news for Christmas Day: Singer and actress Eartha Kitt, whose renditions of the song “Santa Baby” were likely heard millions of times today, has died of colon cancer. She was 81 years old.Kitt had a long and lustrous career that included replacing Julie Newmar as Catwoman in the final season of Batman. Though it was mere television -- and silly television at that --- and Kitt was by then already a significant star, that role seems to symbolize the real power she held. At a time when the United States was reeling under civil rights issues, Kitt was beyond race. Above it, somehow. Was she a black woman? Well, of course she was. But she was a woman first. All woman. It was an aspect of her persona that was clear in every one of her roles. Orson Welles, who gave Kitt her first staring role -- as Helen of Troy -- called her “the most exciting woman in the world.”
Kitt would have been 82 next month.