Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In Memoriam: Cyd Charisse

Today the Hollywood firmament lost one of the last great stars from the Golden Age of movie musicals, Cyd Charisse. She studied under Najinkska in the '30s and danced with the Ballet Rousse till the outbreak of the War. From there she came to the attention of MGM studios where she was given specialty ballet numbers until it became apparent that Charisse's star quality deserved more than an occasional number here and there. Soon she became the partner of choice of both of Hollywood's greatest dancing men, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. She is best known for her work in The Band Wagon, Singing in the Rain, Silk Stockings, It's Always Fair Weather, Brigadoon and others.

I first became aware of Cyd Charisse when I developed an unnatural affinity for Fred Astaire movies as a child. Even late in her career Charisse graced Broadway with an appearance in Grand Hotel in the '90s to the delight of her die-hard fans. The show quite famously capitalized on her popularity with one of those man-on-the-street commercials where an elderly lady hilariously proclaimed in a thick New York accent "I LOVE huh! I LOVE huh!" And so did I. Cyd Charisse was 86.

Just in case you need a reminder of her brilliance as a dancer, check out the clip from the Broadway Melody sequence from Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly.

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At 7:50 PM, Blogger evilganome said...

Whenever I think of Cyd Charisse, that dance sequence is what I think of. I remember hearing an interview with her once and she talked about filming with Kelly. Apparently, Kelly was not the most gentle of partners and Charisse was covered in bruises by the time they finished filming.

What a trooper!

At 10:58 PM, Blogger Matt said...

That clip was my intro to Cyd Charisse. Wow.

It seems teh gays are all posting this tonight. We all recognize the loss of an icon. Great post buddy.

At 11:00 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Umm, to clarify - watching this clip tonight was not my intro to her - but this dance sequence, back when I first saw it around 12 or 13 years old, was. (I have to hold onto my gay card, ya know).

At 12:31 PM, Blogger Curtis said...

I always loved her! What a shame.


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