Cyd Charisse, the actress and dancer whose legs were insured for a million dollars, has died in Los Angeles, at age 87.
Charisse, who danced with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in the 1940s and 1950s, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after suffering a heart attack. Scott Stander, her agent, described Charisse as “one of the classiest ladies you would have ever met.”
The long-legged star appeared in a number of films, but her fame came from the musicals of the 1940s and 1950s.
She sang and danced with legends Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain, and Fred Astaire in Silk Stockings.
At the height of her fame the film company said her long legs were insured for a million dollars.
She was born Tula Ellice Finklea in 1921, Charisse began her career dancing with the Ballet Russe as a teenager. During her European tour she met Nico Charisse, a young French dancer with whom she had trained in Los Angeles. They married in Paris in 1939.
She was married to her second husband, the singer Tony Martin, and a new mother, when she starred with Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain. She was married to Tony Martin for over 60 years.
Fred Astaire described Charisse as “beautiful dynamite”.
“She wasn’t a tap dancer, she’s just beautiful, trained, very strong in whatever we did,” he said in an 1983 interview.
“When we were dancing, we didn’t know what time it was.”