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The result was a scholarship to Dunham's dance school and a chance to tour with her troupe.Still in her teens, she performed in Europe (including London), Mexico and South America, and made her screen debut as one of Dunham's dancers in John Berry's Casbah (1948).I'll never forget how my own people treated me and my mother. Everyone called me 'that yellow girl' and nobody wanted me, Negro or white." Her young life was changed by a casual incident.A woman asked her for directions on a New York street, and told Kitt that she was a dancer with the choreographer-teacher Kath-arine Dunham, and advised her to attend an audition.



Abandoned by her father when young, she was later placed with foster parents by her mother, who wanted to get married.She also gained a reputation for temperament and for snubbing visiting celebrities."I'm not cold," she told Cue magazine, "Just a little numb, sometimes, courtesy of my childhood." One of the composers who worked on New Faces of 1952, Murray Grand, told me that he could think of nothing kind to say of her – "She sang 'I Wanna Be Evil' – and she was!"I have a great need for affection from an audience," she said.

"I don't know whether this is because I had such a tough life when I was a child." Kitt returned to Broadway in December 1954, to star in Mrs Patterson, the story of an adolescent girl in the Deep South in the 1920s who fantasises conflicting dream lives – one as a dignified, rich white woman, the other as a black hellion – before accepting reality.

When I sing something like 'I Wanna Be Evil', I'm not trying to indicate an adult evil.