Eartha Kitt, the sultry singer dancer and actress best known to Disney fans for being the voice of Yzma, one among the best new villains recently appeared on a Disney film, has died at 81 on December 25 2008 in Connecticut of colon cancer.

One of America’s most versatile performers, winner of two Emmy awards and nominated for several Tonys and two Grammys, Kitt released her first album, “RCA Victor Presents Eartha Kitt,” in 1954 with such songs as “I Want to Be Evil,” “C’est Si Bon” and the hymn of a material girl in the making “Santa Baby,” which is revived on radio each Christmas and covered in recent years by both Madonna and Kylie Minogue.

On television, she was the sexy Catwoman on the popular “Batman” series in 1967-68, replacing Julie Newmar who originated the role.

In 2000 she also gained new fans as the voice of Yzma in the Disney animated feature “The Emperor’s New Groove” and reprised the role in the direct to dvd film “Kronk’s New Groove

Photo credits: Associated Press/Disney