Strait-laced, pre-civil rights America wasn't ready for Eartha Kitt. Waiting for others to be ready was never her style. in America's Mistress John L. Williams captures the person behind the myth in this engaging biography but also race relations in Twentieth-century America.
From humble roots on a South Carolina cotton plantation, the multilingual, possibly multi-racial chanteuse emerged seemingly from nowhere to seduce the nation and redefine cosmopolitan glamour. Blending intellect, self-awareness and unprecedented sex appeal, she was a Technicolor presence in a black-and-white world.
But the key to her allure was always her mystery, and her three not-entirely-consistent autobiographies raise more questions than they answer about who she really was--whether singing, dancing, acting or drawing headlines for her romantic dalliances and political activism.
Drawing on extensive original research and interviews with the people who knew her best, Williams delivers a comprehensive, compassionate and thought-provoking record of a life that defied stereotypes, shattered boundaries, yet seemed to fall short of its potential in the end.
America's Mistress is ultimately a celebration of a remarkable American life that paved the way for black entertainers from Belafonte to Beyoncé. With objectivity and thoroughness, John L. Williams provides sought-after answers to tantalizing and elusive questions.