In the 60s, Batman was a boring representation of everything good. When once offered a celebratory cigar, Batman said “No thank you. I don’t use tobacco products in any of their forms.” Everyone was smoking back then! He is wound so tight by his strict moral code that it makes you root for the villains of the show. In particular, the best villain to ever challenge Batman was Catwoman.

Catwoman is the purrfect villain. She is stylish, sexy, and smart. Eartha Kitt was the embodiment of Catwoman because she was someone you wanted to root for. In 1967, Kitt graced television screens as the first black Catwoman. Not only was she the first, but, in my opinion, she was the best.

Why She Stands Out

I was never a big fan of Batman as a character. It’s probably because I could never relate to him in any way. I was, however, always a big fan of  Catwoman. She’s like a female Robinhood, but better. She stole from the rich, but for good reasons. My first time seeing Catwoman was the Halle Berry portrayal in the 2004 film. I really liked the concept of the character and decided to learn more about her. That’s when I discovered Eartha Kitt’s portrayal from the late 60s.

catwoman
Image courtesy of Marie Claire

First of all, if you’re even the tiniest bit a fan of Catwoman, then you need to watch Eartha Kitt’s version ASAP. Kitt does the character immense justice with her iconic husky cackle, soothing purr, and sultry saunter. Other villains in Gotham pale in comparison. While other villains have simple plans to rob vaults or steal jewels, Catwoman is a much more complex creature. Catwoman’s plans always require research and thought.

Leaving other Villains in the Litter Box

Catwoman is a multidimensional character with many skills and talents. Her schemes are much more complicated than robbing a bank. In episodes 16 and 17 of season 3 of the 60s series, Catwoman uses one of her inventions; The Catgun. It has a telescope at the top to help aim, and it’s able to load bullets that contain messages. Not only is she an inventor, but she speaks more than one language! In this episode, Catwoman deciphers a French poem that leads her to clues to an ancient treasure.

Another thing that separates Catwoman from the rest of the villains is how she manages to dismantle the golden trio, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl. In season 3 episode 14, Catwoman uses her wit and runs into a women’s dressing room, knowing that the virtuous Batman and Robin won’t follow with their eyes open. Catwoman successfully kidnaps Batgirl and puts her on a table with a saw set to cut Batgirl in half. Catwoman expects that Batman and Robin will save Batgirl, leaving her free to steal a valuable item and sell it back to its rich owner.

catwoman
Image courtesy of Batman60stv

This happens again in season 3 episode 16/17. Catwoman knows that Batgirl, Robin, and Batman have strength in numbers so she breaks them up. Catwoman ambushes batgirl and ties her up with another one of her great inventions; a rope that tightens with body heat. After separating the group, Catwoman tricks Batman and Robin into thinking that they’ve figured out her plans. Catwoman is the smartest — therefore the greatest — villain to ever challenge Batman.

Catwoman: Behind the Mask

Eartha Kitt debuted as Catwoman after Julie Newman left in 1967. Previously, Kitt got her big break when Orson Welles cast her as a lead role in Dr. Faustus. The actor and singer also had success with hit songs “C’est si bon” and “Santa Baby.” In the “Santa Baby” music video, Kitt is dripping with sex appeal and radiates sophistication. However,  she was never just another pretty face.

Kitt was a well-known activist. She worked with nonprofit organizations, such as Rebels With a Cause, which helped kids clean up streets in order to keep them out of trouble. Kitt even founded her own organization — the Kittsville Youth Foundation — which continues to help kids learn dance and cultural arts in disadvantaged parts of Los Angeles.

Eartha Kitt
Image courtesy of Refinery29

After Kitt played Catwoman, she visited the White House. During a conversation with the First Lady, she made statements that expressed her disapproval for the Vietnam war. At the time, Lyndon B. Johnson was the President, and he was responsible for American soldiers in the war. Eartha Kitt spoke her mind, but not without repercussions. After her blatant disagreement with the President’s ideas, she was blacklisted from Hollywood. Kitt was forced to go overseas just to keep working.

Catwoman’s 9 Lives

Eartha Kitt did this all the while being nothing less than a style icon. She was famous for being bold with her fashion choices. Kitt liked bold prints such as leopard and cheetah prints. She also donned elegant and glamorous gowns that stood out in a crowd, not to mention her signature turbans. Many women would agree that hair is an important part of being a woman. Kitt’s choice to cover it up made a statement. One of those statements was that she could, indeed, pull off anything in this world. Another statement was that she didn’t need to have her hair on display in order to feel confident and look good. She was a confident woman.

catwoman
Image courtesy of Redbookmag

Catwoman as a character is stylish, smart, and sexy. There was no better actress to play Catwoman than Eartha Kitt herself. Catwoman is versatile and multidimensional. The character was made for her because Kitt was the embodiment of Catwoman before creators even put Catwoman’s essence on the page.

Eartha Kitt leaving footprints for future Catwomen

The thing about Catwoman is that, unlike other villains, she has it all. She’s smart, sexy, poised, and a little bit bad. Eartha Kitt did such an amazing job as Catwoman because she was a Catwoman in real life. She paved the way for other Catwomen in the world like Beyonce, Jamila Woods, and people like me, who just want to emanate a little bit of that special essence when we need it. Whether I’m going to an interview, or on a date, I want to have the confidence of Catwoman, and I want to leave my mark on the world.

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