Eartha Kitt Makes an Entrance

Which might be one of the grossest understatements I’ve ever made. In 1978, the late, great Eartha Kitt made a comeback on Broadway in Geoffrey Holder’s revision of Kismet retitled Timbuktu! The new musical adapted the book and score of the original, transporting the setting from Baghdad to the eponymous African oasis. Kitt took on the role of Shaleem-La-Lume, originated in the earlier musical by dramatic soprano sexpot Joan Diener, and was given a brand new song (since “Not Since Nineveh” is topical to Baghdad) called “In the Beginning, Woman.” In the new song, she sensuously dispels the Biblical myth of whom God created first. The revision played the Mark Hellinger Theatre for 221 performances in 1978, costarring Melba Moore and Gilbert Price, before going out on national tour. Unfortunately, no cast album was produced. Though playing a supporting role, Kitt took top billing and walked away with the show and a Tony nomination for Lead Actress in a Musical. She got a star entrance so opulent and grand, it brought down the house every night. And now here it is, enjoy: