Born 1922 as Tula Ellice Finklea in Amarillo, Texas, American dancer and actress Cyd Charisse was a sickly girl who started dancing lessons at six to build up her strength after a bout of polio.
After recovering from polio as a child and studying ballet, Charisse entered films in the 1940s. Her roles usually focused on her abilities as a dancer, and she was paired with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly; her films include Singin’ in the Rain (1952), The Band Wagon (1953), Brigadoon with Gene Kelly and Van Johnson (1954) and Silk Stockings (1957).
Charisse stopped dancing in films in the late 1950s, but continued acting in film and television, and in 1992 made her Broadway debut in Grand Hotel.
Her last film appearance was in 1994 in That’s Entertainment! III as one of the onscreen narrators of a tribute to the great MGM musical films.
Charisse was awarded the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities in 2006. She died in 2008 because of heart attack, aged 86.