Music Hall Memories: That time comics writer Tim Quinn met Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt as Catwoman
Eartha Kitt as Catwoman

Comic writer, publisher and raconteur Tim Quinn has had one of the most colourful careers I know, much of it documented in his biography, Argh! from MIWK Publishing. Here’s just one of his amazing stories, from his time as a stage hand in Leeds… and his encounter with Catwoman actress and singing sensation Eartha Kitt…


The year is 1972. I’m such an innocent, just seventeen, walking down the stairs from the Flys to the Green Room at the world famous City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds.

On a window ledge at the bottom of the stairs sits Eartha Kitt, dressed in Victorian yellow silk.

She is looking up the staircase. She is looking up the staircase into my eyes. Directly into my eyes. Eartha Kitt is looking directly into my eyes. The Universe has come to a sudden stop because Eartha Kitt is looking directly into my eyes and she won’t stop. There are twenty-four steps to climb down and her eyes don’t blink or waver.

I have to make you understand the full shuddering impact of that moment in my life. I was raised a Catholic in the 1950s being sent to the nuns at age four, followed by an eternity under the iron fist of the Irish Christian Brothers (“We will instil a fear of God in your child”.). There had been only boys at my school. No girls.

And certainly no Eartha Kitt.

When I tell people my Eartha Kitt story, I always pause at this point so that they can say: “Go on. What happened next?”

I then take up the story. Her eyes followed me all the way to the kettle across the Green Room. When I turned from pouring myself a cup, she was still staring directly into my eyes. Pause. “And then what?”


She was called on stage for a performance in the BBC’s Good Old Days TV series and I retreated back to the Flys.

Eartha Kitt, The Good Old Days (1972?)
Eartha Kitt in that memorable yellow dress…
Eartha Kitt, from a Good Old Days first broadcast in 1972

“Not much of a story,” say my listeners. Maybe not to them and maybe not to you. But to me, as I type these words, I am transported effortlessly back 48 years to share a passionate moment in Time with the one and only Eartha Kitt. And I know for a fact that despite what she sang and how she was dressed on that occasion, she was no old-fashioned girl.

Eartha Kitt, Catwoman, looked directly into my eyes and stayed there for the rest of my life. That, Simon Cowell, is Star Quality. And that was one super strong woman.

Tim Quinn

Tim Quinn – writer, publisher and more – is the genius behind the FAB4000 project that he created with Russ Leach, inspired by Jayne Massey and her seeing eye dog Witney who feature in the stories. Ken Dodd  recently gave his support to the project, and Tim is working on the latest edition for the Merseyside charity, Liverpool Heartbeat – The comic is due out in the next few months Find out more on Facebook. You can find Tim online at

Eartha Mae Kitt was an international star who gave new meaning to the word versatile. She distinguished herself in film, theatre, cabaret, music and on television. Miss Kitt was one of only a handful of performers to be nominated for a Tony (three times), the Grammy (twice), and Emmy Award (twice). The official web site dedicated to her and her work is at

BBC - The Good Old Days (date unknown)

The Good Old Days was a BBC television light entertainment programme produced by Barney Colehan which ran from 1953 to 1983. Filmed at The Varieties, the show recreated an authentic atmosphere of the Victorian–Edwardian music hall with songs and sketches of the era performed by present-day performers in the style of the original artistes.

Compered by Leonard Sachs, the show featured more than 2000 performers over the course of its run, including Les Dawson, Barbara Windsor, Bruce Forsyth, Eartha Kitt, John Inman, Ken Dodd and Barry Cryer. The original series has enjoyed a re-run on BBC4.

Back in 2011, the Radio Times noted “BBC producers are a wily bunch. When Eartha Kitt was at the height of her international career it would have been impossible to persuade her to show up at an old music hall theatre in Leeds for a one-song appearance. But Barney Colehan, producer of BBC TV’s The Good Old Days for all of its 30-year history, pulled off this coup by telling her that he had arranged for her to use the dressing room that Charlie Chaplin had occupied at the start of his career.”

There was no way of knowing which of the many dressing rooms Chaplin might have used… but Ms. Kitt wasn’t told that!


Categories: Features, Other Worlds

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