Steven Korn
December 25, 2008 AT 12:00 PM EST

Eartha Kitt, famed for decades as a singer, actress, dancer, and frequently outspoken cultural commentator, has died in New York, where she was being treated for colon cancer, according to CNN, citing confirmation from Kitt’s publicist. She was 81. Known to many for her portrayal of Catwoman on the 1960s’ Batman TV series, her signature was a sultry, purring voice, one that New York Times critic Stephen Holden described in a 2000 review of her show at N.Y.’s Cafe Carlyle as suggesting “a steel beam lined with mink.” Signature songs included her 1953 hit “C’est Si Bon (It’s So Good)” and “Santa Baby,” repopularized decades later by Madonna. She continued to perform until recently (her website lists an appearance scheduled for Minneapolis on Dec. 12 and 13, which she had to cancel), and provided voices for animated projects including The Emperor’s New Groove and American Dad!. She also appeared in the 2003 film Holes, with Shia LaBeouf. Check back at EW.com for an appreciation of her life and work. Until then, share your memories of Eartha Kitt on the message board below.

See a clip of Eartha Kitt performing “Santa Baby”:

 

See a vintage clip of Eartha Kitt performing “C’est Si Bon”:

 

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