Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cyd Charisse

Charisse was born on March 8th 1922 as Tula Ellice Finklea in Amarillo, Texas. Her nickname "Sid" was taken from a sibling trying to say "Sis"; was later spelled "Cyd" at MGM to supposedly give her an air of mystery. She was a sickly girl who started dancing lessons at six to build up her strength after a bout with polio.

She joined a dance company and soon travelled all over performing. At one point during a European tour, she met up with Nico Charisse, a handsome young dancer she had studied with for a time in Los Angeles. They married in Paris in 1939 and Cyd gave birth to their son in 1942. Nico and Cyd divorced a few years later in 1947 and Cyd remarried singer Tony Martin in 1948. Tony and Cyd were married almost 60 years when Cyd died. (Picture of Tony and Cyd below)

She starred many films including The Band Wagon (1953), Silk Stockings (1957) and Brigadoon (1954).After the decline of the Hollywood musical in the late 1950s, Charisse retired from dancing but continued to appear in film and TV productions from the 1960s through the 1990s.

In her eighties, Charisse made occasional public appearances and appeared frequently in documentaries spotlighting the golden age of Hollywood. Publicist Gene Schwam said Charisse was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, on June 16, 2008 after suffering an apparent heart attack. She died the following day,June 17, aged 86.

Scene from The Band Wagon.

Cyd made a brief appearance (just this scene) in Singing in the Rain.

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