AMERICAN singing sensation Eartha Kitt got more than she bargained for when she ‘bumped into’ John Keeman back in December 1960.

The Glasgow teenager sent the famous star flying – and she was not impressed.

John recalls: “The famous Rangers player George Young used to have a café in Renfield Street and some of the squad were regulars – Jim Baxter, Alec Scott, Ian MacMillan and so on. I worked in Hope Street and went to the café with my workmates during my lunch hour.

“One day, we got into a conversation with some of the Rangers team and when I looked at the time, I realised we were going to be late.”

He adds: “We took off and ran down the stairs into the street, where I bumped into a lady who was wearing really fancy furs.

“When I stopped to help her to her feet, I was confronted by a really annoyed Eartha Kitt who was in Glasgow for a three-week run at the Empire.”

John, who was sixteen at the time, laughs: “My boss didn’t believe a word of my excuse and docked my wages anyway….”

The Evening Times captured Ms Kitt, then aged 33, in photos taken at George Square, on a chilly afternoon.

She had flown in from Scandinavia the previous day. She was to be top of the bill in the Empire’s Christmas show, Stars in Your Eyes, which opened on Christmas Eve, but by the sounds of the Evening Times report, the press were not expecting her to be particularly friendly.

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We reported: “Miss Eartha Kitt gave the press a big surprise yesterday. At the reception she talked…and talked…and talked.

“At her last press conference in Glasgow four years ago, Eartha looked informal enough – she wore matador pants and her bare feet were perched on a coffee table – but her replies to questions were laconic and although she is said to speak nine languages, she did most of the talking with her eyes.

“Yesterday however, Eartha was positively voluble and the most affable of persons, as she curled up in her stockinged feet on a settee in her hotel suite which overlooks the Christmas lights in George Square.”

The reporter described her as “witty and intelligent” and said she “disclosed she was writing a novel which is about three-quarters finished,” but that she would wait until she goes home to Beverly Hills to complete it.

Her new husband, Bill McDonald, whom she had married earlier in the year, did not accompany his wife on the visit to Glasgow. Instead, the couple corresponded by letter, Ms Kitt told the reporters.

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“He is in real estate in California but never talks business in his letters, he talks about other things,” she said.

The marriage lasted five years, and the couple had a daughter, Kitt, together.

The report finished by revealing: “As camera flashbulbs popped, Eartha confided to the photographers – ‘I can never quite get used to this’….”

Ms Kitt started as a dancer before moving into full-blown cabarets, stage acting movies and television. Her first album came out in 1954, and featured songs such as I Want to Be Evil and the Christmas number Santa Baby. In 1995, she received a Grammy nomination for her album Back in Business, and she returned to Broadway in 1998 to play the witch in The Wizard of Oz. She died aged 81, in 2008, from colon cancer.

Do you recall Eartha Kitt’s visit to Glasgow? Which famous faces have you seen in the city? Email or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB.