Eartha Kitt, who captivated audiences around the world with sultry performances as a singer, dancer and actress, died on Thursday at the age of 81. Kitt died of colon cancer for which she was recently treated at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, said Andrew Freedman, a long-time friend and publicist.
Slinky, sensuous and cat-like, Kitt described herself as a "sex kitten" and used her seductive purr to charm audiences across the world. Actor-director Orson Welles once called Kitt "the most exciting woman alive" and, along with Lena Horne, she was one of the first African-American sex symbols.
Kitt picked up a string of awards during her long career, winning two Emmy's and being nominated for a third, as well as a Grammy. She also had two Tony nominations.
Best know for her role as Catwoman in 1967's Batman TV series, and more recently her voice was also heard in the Dreamworks movie and subsiquent videos The Emporors New Groove. Kitt was heard regularly at Christmas time with her 1953 recording of 'Santa Baby', for which she received a gold record this year.