Hollywood’s dancing seductress Cyd Charisse dies at 86

June 18th, 2008 - 1:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Los Angeles, June 18 (DPA) Cyd Charisse, whose elegant dance moves on the silver screen wooed her co-stars Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, has died at the age of 86. The cause of her death at a Los Angeles hospital Tuesday was an apparent heart attack, her agent, Scott Stander, told the news media.

Born in 1923 in Texas, Tula Ellice Finklea, popularly known as Charisse began her dancing career with the Ballet Russe, but fame came after film studio MGM discovered her and cast her in leading roles at the height of the popularity of the Hollywood musical.

She had minor roles in movies for nearly a decade before her breakout role came in 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain”. Although she appeared in only one number, “Broadway Melody Ballet”, with Kelly, it sealed her reputation as a glamorous, lithe dancing star.

A year later, she secured her first leading role in the musical comedy “The Band Wagon” opposite Astaire, in which the couple starred in a classic plot: Man and woman meet with friction marking their initial relationship until they fall for one another.

Astaire plays a falling Hollywood star who decides to take a broadway role that casts him opposite Charisse as a prima ballerina. The two have to put aside their initial differences to make the show work.

Along with “Singin’ in the Rain”, it is considered one of MGM’s classic musicals and popularized the songs “That’s Entertainment and Dancing in the Dark”, to which white-clad Charisse and Astaire danced in the moonlight in New York’s Central Park.

A starring role followed in 1954’s “Brigadoon”, in which Charisse stars as a villager of a Scottish town that appears once every 100 years and as Kelly’s love interest.

In 1957, she teamed up with Astaire again in “Silk Stockings”, in which she played a Soviet functionary dispatched to Paris who falls for a Hollywood producer to the songs of Cole Porter.

After the end of the studio system, Charisse appeared seldom on the big screen, but her Hollywood fame propelled her into a successful second career, a song and dance partnership with her husband Tony Martin on nightclub tours, in Las Vegas and on television.

Martin, 95, survives her as does their son, Tony Jr, and Nicky Charisse, the son from her first marriage to dancer Nico Charisse.

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