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Iconic Actress & Dancer Cyd Charisse


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Iconic Actress/Dancer Cyd Charisse

by Mary Rourke, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

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Cyd Charisse . . . Then and Now

LOS ANGELES, California -- Cyd Charisse, who brought sizzle and sophistication to dance in such classic movie musicals as "Singin' in the Rain" and "Silk Stockings," died Tuesday, June 17 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering an apparent heart attack Monday, publicist Gene Schwam said. She was 86.

Charisse captured moviegoers' attention in a quick succession of films, starting with "Singin' in the Rain" in 1952 in which she partnered with dancer and actor Gene Kelly in a steamy ballet. She was strong, lithe and "drop-dead gorgeous to look at," dance/film historian and author Larry Billman said of Charisse in her breakthrough performance.

She partnered with Kelly again in "Brigadoon" in 1954 and "It's Always Fair Weather" the following year. "After years when Hollywood's leading dancers were cute and fluffy, Cyd took dance to a more sensual realm in the 1950s," Billman said in a September 2007 interview with The Times.

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Frequent dance duo Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly in

the 'Broadway Melody Ballet' sequence from 'Singin'

in the Rain' in 1952

In 1976, Charisse wrote a joint biography entitled "The Two of Us" with her husband, Tony Martin along with co-author, Dick Kleiner. In her autobiography, Charisse reflected on her numerous but varied dance experiences on the screen with dance giants, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

"As one of the handful of girls who worked with both of those dance geniuses, I think I can give an honest comparison," Charisse said. "In my opinion, Kelly is the more inventive choreographer of the two. Astaire, with Hermes Pan's help, creates fabulous numbers

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When I think of her I always picture that spider web dress she wore in Singing in the Rain. When I was younger and watched that movie with my parents I thought I would have a dress made like that when I got older. Well, I have spider webs, but no dress. LOL

Anyways, she was a class act.

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My mom went to school with her (and swears she was older than 86 by the way) . They both graduated from Amarillo High School in Amarillo Texas. She used to talk about her quite often - she was so incredibly focused on her dancing that she never went to school activities.

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Most actors in those days fudged on their age. One because they started working under age and the other because it was easier to get jobs if you were younger.

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