×
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

  • China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to

    China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to Hit French Theaters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Midnight Blur Films has signed a deal with French distributor Les Acacias to release Chinese arthouse drama “Three Adventures of Brooke” in France this year, the Chinese production company told Variety on Saturday. A release date has yet to be set for the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and stars Chinese newcomer Xu Fangyi [...]

  • Noe Debre On His Directorial Debut,

    Top French Screenwriter Noe Debre Makes Directorial Debut, ‘The Seventh Continent’

    This last half-decade, few French screenwriters have run up such an illustrious list of co-write credits as Noé Debré. Thomas Bedigain’s writing partner on Jacques Audiard’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Deephan,” Debra co-penned Bedigain’s own debut, “The Cowboys,” “Racer and the Jailbird,” by Michael Roskam, and “Le Brio,” directed by Yvan Attal. He has now [...]

  • Julien Trauman Talks Survival-Thriller Short ‘At

    Julien Trauman on Survival-Thriller Short ‘At Dawn’

    France’s Julien Trauman has never been afraid to play with genre, and in his latest short, the MyFrenchFilmFestival participant “At Dawn,” he employs aspects of psychological thriller, survival, coming-of-age and fantasy filmmaking. “At Dawn” kicks off the night before when a group of teens, one about to leave town, are imbibing heavily around a beach-side [...]

  • ‘Flowers’ Director Baptiste Petit-Gats Interview

    Baptiste Petit-Gats: ‘Editing Taught Me How to Write for Film’

    France’s Baptiste Petit-Gats is an hyphenate that keeps himself plenty busy editing, photographing, writing and directing. The bulk of his editing gigs up until now have been in documentary film work, evident in the way he shot and edited his own short film, participating in the MyFrenchFilmFestival, “Flowers.” In the film, Petit-Gats tells the heartbreaking [...]

  • Fanny Litard, Jérémy Trouilh on ‘Blue

    France’s Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh Discuss MyFFF Suburban Fable ‘Blue Dog’

    French filmmakers Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh met at university while studying political science before diverging towards separate careers. Trouilh trained in documentary filmmaking; Liatard worked on urban artistic projects in Lebanon and France. They eventually joined back up to film three shorts: “Gagarine,” a Sundance Channel Shorts Competition Jury Prize winner in 2016; “The [...]

  • MFFF: 'The Collection' Director Blanchard Readies

    'The Collection' Director Emmanuel Blanchard Readies First Feature

    Paris-born Emmanuel Blanchard studied and then taught history before becoming a documentary filmmaker responsible for films such as “Bombing War,” “Le diable de la République” and “Après la guerre.” He’s currently directing “Notre-Dame de Paris”, a 90-minute animated part-doc, part-fiction film on the building of the world-famous Paris cathedral. Competing at MyFFF, “The Collection” is [...]

  • Dragon Ball Super: Broly

    Film Review: ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’

    Late in “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” the 20th Japanese anime feature in a 35-year-old franchise that also has spawned scads of TV series, trading cards, video games, mangas, and limited-edition collectibles, a supporting character complains, “I don’t understand a single thing you’ve said the whole time.” If you’re among the heretofore uninitiated drawn to this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content