Cyd Charisse was an American dancer and actress known for her roles in Singin’ in the Rain(1952), The Band Wagon (1953), Brigadon (1954). In 2006, Cyd was also awarded the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities.
Cyd died on June 17, 2008, due to a heart attack, in Los Angeles, California.
The Early Life of Cyd Charisse
Cyd was born as Tula Finklea to Lela and Ernest Enos Finklea, a jeweler in Amarillo, Texas, on March 8, 1922. She was nicknamed ‘Sid’ when her younger brother tried to say ‘Sis; The name was later changed into Cyd.
Cyd started dance lesson to regain her strength at the age of six after she suffered from polio. She studied ballet in Los Angeles with Adolph Bolm and Bronislava Nijinska at the age of 12. And at the age of 14, she danced in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
After the outbreak of World War II, Cyd returned to Los Angeles. She got a dancing role in Something to Shout About. Cyd later got discovered by Robert Alton and soon joined the Freed Unit at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In 1946, Cyd got her first speaking role in The Harvey alongside Judy Garland.
Cyd appeared onscreen with Fred Astaire in Ziegfeld Follies, released in 1946, and in The Band Wagon (1953). Cyd also guest appeared in films like Tension ( 1949), ‘East Side, West Side’ (1949).
Her breakout film was Singin in the Rain (1952) co-starring Gene Kelly. In 1956, Cyd again co-starred with Gene in his MGM musical It’s Always Fair Weather. Cyd played a serious role of a showgirl who gets involved with gangsters and crooked lawyer in film Party Girl which was released in 1958.
In late 50’s, Cyd retired from dancing but she continued to appear in the films and TV productions. She also got a support role in an unfinished movie of Marilyn Monroe, Something’s Got To Give (1962). Charisse performed in a variety of TV shows like The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dean Martin Show, and The Hollywood Palace, which she has even hosted three times.
In the 1978 film Warlords of Atlantis, Cyd played the role of an Atlantean high priestess. Charisse’s last film was That’s Entertainment! III in 1994, a tribute to MGM musical Films. She also appeared in Janet Jackson’s film Alright and in Blue Mercedes’s I want to be your property.
Later Years of Cyd
Charisse made her Broadway debut in Grand Hotel, as the aging ballerina, in 1992. She and her husband, in 1976, wrote a joint memoir titled The Two of US (1976). Spotlighting the golden age of Hollywood, Charisse in her eighties made occasional public appearances and appeared more frequently in documentaries.
In 1952, Cyd issued $5 million insurance on her legs which later got featured in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records under ‘Most Valuable Legs’.
Cyd’s Personal Life
Charisse got married to Nico Charisse (March 1906 to April 1970) in March 1939. They first met in a dance class in Los Angeles. The pair had a son together, Nicky, born in 1942. Cyd and Nico got divorced in 1947, but Cyd kept the surname even after the separation.
Cyd than got married to singer Tony Martin in 1948. The pair had a son Tony Martin, Jr ( August 28, 1950- April 10, 2011).
Cyd’s daughter-in-law is an actress and model, Liv Lindeland. Liv is married to Tony Martin, whereas her other daughter-in-law died in a crash of American Airlines Flight 191 on May 25, 1979.
Cyd Charisse’s Death
After suffering an apparent heart attack, Cyd was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where she died the following day at the age of 86.
As Cyd was practicing Methodist, she was buried at a Jewish cemetery, Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Charisse’s Earnings and Net Worth
Cyd stood 5 feet 7 inches (height) and her nationality was American. Her ethnicity is white. Throughout her life, Charisse played in many films, documentaries, and shows.
Her net worth at the time of her death was estimated to be around $40.8 million. Her final on-camera appearance was in a documentary ‘Satin and Silk’. Cyd's documentary and films can be found on YouTube.