Eartha Kitt was a skinny, mixed-race woman with an odd, angular face, who seduced fifties white America into thinking that she was, in the words of Orson Welles, 'the most exciting woman in the world'. She could count Marilyn Monroe, T.S. Eliot, Prince Philip and Albert Einstein among her friends and admirers, and was almost able to forget she had once been a poor black girl from the Deep South. But her new persona was also a prison from which she found it impossible to escape. John L. Williams' moving and unsettling biography shows a star adrift in a bewildering new America torn apart by the Civil Rights movement. Shunned by many of her former friends, shocked by her country's insiduous racism, and with a perilously fragile sense of her own identity, Eartha Kitt would pay the price that came from trying to be America's mistress.
John L. Williams is the author of five works of fiction including The Cardiff Trilogy and assorted non-fiction, such as his recent biographies of Shirley Bassey and the British Black Power leader, Michael X. He's a regular reviewer for the Independent and the Mail On Sunday, and the co-organiser of The Laugharne Weekend literary festival in West Wales. He lives and works in Cardiff.
Introduction. PART 1 - LEARNING THE GAME: At the White Man's Door, in the White Man's Dwelling; We Come Up Tight; Cotton Comes to Harlem; Metropolitan High; Miss Dunham; The Free and Equal Blues; At the Bal Negre; En Route to the Casbah; Foggy Days in London Town; Springtime in Paris; Paris is Always Paris; Helen of Troy; C'est Si Bon. PART 2 - AMERICA'S MISTRESS: I Want to Be Evil! Santa Baby; Mrs Patterson Regrets; Hush-hush and Strictly Confidential; Back to Black; Literary Eartha; International Eartha; Integrated Eartha; St Louis Blues. PART 3 - THE END OF THE AFFAIR: What's a Woman to Do? My Dear Little Husband; Five Rules for a Successful Marriage; Guest Starring Eartha Kitt; Catwoman; Lady Bird's Blacklist; Paint Me Black Angels. EPILOGUE: I'm Still Here. Endnotes. Bibliography. Acknowledgements. Index.