January 17, 2019 would have marked Eartha Kitt’s 92nd birthday. Deemed “the most exciting woman in the world” by Orson Welles, Kitt was introduced to a new generation of fans with a series of roles in film and television in the 1990s and 2000s and of course, her legendary and timeless roles from her early career.
Last year, we announced that Lethal Weapon actress Keesha Sharp was slated to produce and portray the multitalented entertainer in a biopic.
While we wait for that, we’ve compiled a list of five of Kitt’s most memorable roles for our generation.
1. Madame Zeroni in Holes
In the 2003 adventure flick Holes, Kitt portrayed Madame Zeroni, a fortune-teller with one leg. While she has a relatively minor role in the box office hit, her presence (much like the actress who portrayed her) reverberates throughout the film. She curses a young man with bad luck after he fails to keep a promise to her. The curse that is passed down to his great-great-grandson, Stanley Yelnats, portrayed by Shia LaBeouf. However, it is soon reversed when LaBeouf’s character meets Madame Zeroni’s great-great grandson, Hector.
2. Yzma in The Emperor’s New Groove
In this 2000 post-Disney Renaissance offering, Kitt portrayed Yzma, the self-serving advisor to Emperor Kuzco, who inadvertently turns the vain protagonist into a llama in a bid to poison him after he fires her. The tables are turned on Yzma when one of her numerous potions transforms her into a cat at the end of the film. Kitt won the Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement For Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Feature Production for her work on The Emperor’s New Groove. Kitt reprised her role for the TV series sequel to this movie as well, titled The Emperor’s New School.
3. Queen Vexus in My Life As A Teenage Robot
In the Nickelodeon cartoon, My Life As A Teenage Robot, Kitt portrayed Queen Vexus, a cunning robot queen and master of disguise who is hellbent on enslaving the human race. As the main antagonist in the series, she complicates matters from protagonist Jenny Wakeman (XJ-9), a teenage robot who yearns for a normal life.
4. Catwoman in Batman
In 1967, Kitt laced up her boots for the role of Catwoman in the third and final season of Batman. Kitt stepped into the role after the character’s original portrayer, Julie Newmar, left the show in 1967. Since then, no one has come close to or surpassed Kitt’s coquettish portrayal of the feline femme fatale. She is Catwoman!
5. Agatha K. Plummer in Harriet The Spy
In the 1996 Nickelodeon film Harriet The Spy, Eartha portrayed Agatha K. Plummer, one of the many characters who became the subject of detective work by the titular character, an inquisitive sixth grader with a fondness for amateur spy work.