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“Beautiful Dynamite” Gone

from Agence France-Presse

Cyd Charisse, last great Hollywood dancer, dead at 87

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Dancer and actress Cyd Charisse, whose legs were insured for a million dollars in the heyday of the Hollywood musical, died at her home in Los Angeles on Tuesday, her agent said. She was 87.

Scott Stander said Charisse, a regular partner of legends Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, suffered a heart attack at her home and “never recovered.” She died at 12.15 am (0715 GMT).

“We’re all just heartbroken,” said Stander, describing Charisse as “one of the classiest ladies you would have ever met.”

Charisse rose to fame as the big studio musical was fading from view, playing the vamp who entices Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.”

A brief role without a word of dialogue, Charisse made an unforgettable entrance by dangling Kelly’s straw hat on the toe of her high heel as he — and the camera — admired her fully-extended leg.

She got to play Kelly’s leading lady in Vincente Minnelli’s “Brigadoon” and partnered with Fred Astaire in “The Band Wagon” and “Silk Stockings” before the studios pulled the plug on big budget musicals.

Charisse left her home in Amarillo, Texas as a young girl for the better dance studios in Los Angeles and was hired at 14 by the legendary Ballet Russe.

Charisse toured Europe, changing her name several times to better fit into the program, until the troupe disbanded when the war broke out in 1939.


Astaire, who called her “beautiful dynamite,” said somewhat enigmatically, “When you dance with Cyd Charisse, you’ve been danced with.”

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Posted on June 17, 2008 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art | | 1 Comment »