Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cyd Charisse dies in L.A. at 86

Cyd Charisse, the long-legged Texas beauty who danced with the Ballet Russe as a teenager and starred in MGM musicals with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, died Tuesday. She was 86.

Charisse was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Monday after suffering an apparent heart attack, said her publicist, Gene Schwam.

She appeared in dramatic films, but her fame came from the Technicolor musicals of the 1940s and 1950s.

Classically trained, she could dance anything, from a pas de deux in 1946's "Ziegfeld Follies" to the lowdown Mickey Spillane satire of 1956's "The Band Wagon" (with Astaire).

She also forged a popular song-and-dance partnership on television and in nightclub appearances with her husband, singer Tony Martin.

Her height was 5 feet, 6 inches, but in high heels and full-length stockings, she seemed serenely tall, and she moved with extraordinary grace. Her flawless beauty and jet-black hair contributed to an aura of perfection that Astaire described in his 1959 memoir, "Steps in Time," as "beautiful dynamite."

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