In today’s blog, we continue to expand upon our repertoire of the most talented dancers and performers of Old Hollywood. One of the most beautiful and talented female performers of the time was the stunning Cyd Charisse. Rumored to have her legs insured for one million dollars, Charisse danced on-screen with stars such as Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. Today, we would like to discuss the life of this famed dancer.

Humble Beginnings

Born as Tula Ellice Finklea in Amarillo, Texas in the early 1920s, she began taking dance lessons at a young age. A sick child, she took dance lessons in an effort to rebuild her strength following a bout of polio. Her talent emerged when she gained entrance into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in California when she was just a teenager. While performing with this dance troupe, she adopted the stage name, “Celia Sidorova.” While touring, she met and later married a fellow dancer, Nico Charisse, and they had a son named Nicky in 1942.

Film Career

Studio scouts took notice of the talented dancer and signed her on for some smaller film roles, in which she adopted the screen name, “Lily Norwood.” In 1946, she signed a contract with MGM, which was considered the best studio for musicals at the time. Continuing with many small roles on screen, she started dancing with Hollywood greats such as Fred Astaire. When she appeared in the 1945 musical, The Ziegfeld Follies, her screen name changed to the famous, “Cyd Charisse.” She also appeared alongside Gene Kelly in the 1952 movie, Singin’ in the Rain. Although she only had one dance number in the movie, her performance was seductive and extraordinary.

Missed Opportunity

In 1951, Gene Kelly starred in the feature film, An American in Paris, in which Charisse was offered a role. Unfortunately, she was forced to turn down the role because she was pregnant at the time. Instead, Leslie Caron was cast in the role.

Her Remaining Dance Career

Her last dancing role in Hollywood was in the musical, Silk Stockings. Around this time, the golden era of Hollywood musicals was coming to an end. Although she had some other dramatic role, Charisse thought of herself as more of a dancer than an actress. She continued to dance in a variety of stage acts in Las Vegas. In 1992 at the age of 70, Charisse made her Broadway debut as a depressed ballerina in the musical, Grand Hotel.

Are you interested in dancing like the Old Hollywood stars? When you take lessons in our ballroom dance studio in Woodbridge, you’ll experience a variety of benefits. Not only are our adult dance classes great fun, but they are also a great form of exercise. In our positive and encouraging atmosphere, you’ll never even notice that you are burning calories because you are having such a great time. Not only will you be burning calories, you’ll also become more flexible through the repetitive movements and gain a better sense of balance and grace. Sometimes we even find that our students have so much fun dancing, they begin competing in the ballroom dance circuit. Contact the Modern Ballroom Dance Studio in Woodbridge to get started today.