×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dancer, film icon Cyd Charisse dies

Remembered for work with Kelly, Astaire

Dancer and movie star Cyd Charisse died of cardiac arrest Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, her longtime business manager Stan Schneider disclosed. She was 86.

Though only 5-foot-6, the Amarillo, Texas, native was famous for her long legs and her beauty, and is perhaps best known for her onscreen pairings with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, including roles in “The Band Wagon,” (1953), in which she performed the acclaimed routines “Dancing in the Dark” and “Girl Hunt Ballet” with Astaire, and “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952), which featured her classic “Broadway Melody” showstopper opposite Kelly.

Charisse (born Tula Ellice Finklea) studied ballet in L.A. with Adolph Bolm and Bronislava Nijinska and briefly danced in the Ballet Russes before joining MGM as a resident ballet dancer.

She first appeared with Astaire in a brief routine in “Ziegfeld Follies” (released in 1946) and reunited with him in 1957’s “Silk Stockings,” the musical version of “Ninotchka,” in which she took on the part originally played by Greta Garbo.

Besides “Singin’ in the Rain,” she paired with Kelly in 1954’s “Brigadoon” and his 1956 pic “It’s Always Fair Weather.”

She continued to appear in film and TV productions from the 1960s through to the 1990s and made her Broadway debut at 70 in the musical “Grand Hotel,” coincidentally again in a production that included Garbo in the original film version.

Last July she lensed “Back to the Empire State Building” for French TV, according to her longtime manager Budd Moss. The film, a tribute to American cinema that also featured Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Mickey Rooney, Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazzara and Marsha Hunt, was filmed in English but has not been set for release outside of France, Moss said.

Charisse wrote a joint biography with her husband, singer Tony Martin, and Dick Kleiner titled “The Two of Us” (1976) and was especially proud of two awards: She (along with Maurice Bejart) was specially honored at the first Nijinsky Awards in Monaco in 2001, and she was presented with the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities by President George W. Bush in 2006.

Charisse also produced the exercise video “Easy Energy Shape Up,” targeted at active senior citizens.

Besides her husband of 60 years, she is survived by two sons, a grandson and a granddaughter.

Services will be held 3 p.m. Sunday at Hillside Memorial Park, 6001 W. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90045.

More Film

  • 'Shazam!' Review: Zachary Levi is Pure

    Film Review: 'Shazam!'

    In “Shazam!,” Zachary Levi brings off something so winning it’s irresistible. He plays a square-jawed, rippling-muscled man of might, with a cheesy Day-Glo lighting bolt affixed to his chest, who projects an insanely wholesome and old-fashioned idea of what a superhero can be. But he’s also playing a breathless teenage kid on the inside, and [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: 'Us' on Track for Second-Highest Debut of 2019 With $67 Million

    Jordan Peele’s “Us” is on its way to scaring up one of the biggest debuts of 2019, with an estimated $67 million from 3,741 North American locations. Should estimates hold, “Us” will be able to claim several milestones: the highest debut for an original horror movie (the biggest launch for any horror pic goes to [...]

  • NF_D_JGN-D6-2160.cr2

    Film Review: 'The Dirt'

    A long time ago, the words sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll carried a hint of danger. The lifestyle did, too, but I’m talking about the phrase. It used to sound cool (back around the time the word “cool” sounded cool). But sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has long since passed into the realm [...]

  • James Newton Howard Danny Elfman

    New Trend in Concert Halls: Original Music by Movie Composers — No Film Required

    Movie and TV composers are in greater demand than ever for, surprisingly, new music for the concert hall. For decades, concert commissions for film composers were few and far between. The increasing popularity of John Williams’ film music, and his visibility as conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1980s and ’90s, led to his [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content