Cyd Charisse: Most Valuable Legs

Cyd Charisse was one of the most famous dancers of the 1940’s and 1950’s. She appeared in some of the most popular movies of that era, despite the fact that she overcame polio as a child. During her career she became such a noted dancer, that her legs were once insured for an unheard of sum of $5 million!

Cyd Charisse (born Tula Elice Finklea) was born on March 8, 1922 in Amarillo, Texas. She started being called Sid by one of her siblings trying to say Sis. She liked it so much, friends and family also started to call her Sid (a movie company later changed it to Cyd). At an early age, Cyd Charisse fought a battle against polio and successfully fought off the illness. However, the polio left her weak, and doctors suggested that she take dance lessons to build up her strength. So, starting at the age of 6, she studied ballet, and was very good at it. She was so good at dance, that at the age of 12 she began studying in Los Angeles. At 14, she began dancing with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and continued for several years, where she eventually met her husband, Nico Charisse.

Because of her outstanding ballet skills, she became noticed and was signed on as the resident ballet dancer for MGM Studios. She began appearing in dancing roles starting with “Something to Shout About” in 1943. Over the next several years she began dancing in a series of movies, being paired up with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Some of the movies Charisse appeared in includes “The Harvey Girls”, “Ziegfeld Follies”, “Singing in the Rain”, “Brigadoon”, “Meet Me in Las Vegas” and “Silk Stockings.” During her roles, her classical ballet training was called upon regularly, along with modern dance.

In the late 50’s the era of the big Hollywood musicals came to an end, and so too did the dancing career of Syd Charisse. However, she continued to act in movies into the 1970’s. However, her popularity never matched her popularity in the 50’s, when in 1952, MGM Studios reportedly (although never confirmed) insured her legs for $5 million dollars.

Her ballet skills came into play one final time when in 1992, she made her Broadway debut, playing an aging ballerina in “Grand Hotel”. On June 16, 2008, Cyd Charisse died from an apparent heart attack.

Cyd Charisse will be remembered as one of the greatest dancers of our time, and her partnerships with Astaire and Kelly were some of the greatest moments in film history. Fortunately, her spirit will live on in those movies.

·       Cyd Charisse: appreciation page to the famous dancer/actress

·       Cyd Charisse: official website for Cyd Charisse

·       Legs: tribute site to Cyd Charisse

·       Cyd Charisse Films: resource listing filmography and photographs

·       Cyd Charisse: information on the life of Charisse

·       Singing in the Rain: movie information and explanation on how Charisse appeared

·       Biography: details on the life of Cyd Charisse

·       Dancer: video from Singing in the Rain

·       Dancing: information on the dancing career of Cyd Charisse

·       Love Goddess: information on the life and career of Cyd Charisse

·      Dating: resource and information

·       Silk Stockings: scene from the movie starring Charisse and Fred Astaire

·       Cyd Charisse: information on the career of Cyd Charisse

·       Cyd Charisse: review of her life and career

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