Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Legs! That's what Cyd Charisse was known for! Her real name was Tula Finklea & contrary to popular belief she was born in Texas! She is considered one of the greatest dancers of the Silver screen. Her father loved ballet & encouraged her to learn to dance. She was soon part of the Ballet Russe at the early age of 14! She came home to the States when her Father became ill and she ended up in Los Angeles. She soon married her dance instructor, Nico Charisse, in Paris in 1939 and she kept that name even after her short marriage ended.

Cyd started out in Hollywood doing very small roles and she felt that she found her true calling. She loved it & was determined to become a star. She became one of MGM's greatest box office draws! A star indeed :)

Cyd worked with some of the most glittering stars in show business, Judy Garland, Kirk Douglas, Esther Williams, Ricardo Montalban, Fred Astaire, & Gene Kelly. Once, when asked who she would prefer to dance with, Astaire or Kelly, she sheepishly replied "It's like comparing apples to oranges, they're both delicious"! She had an intense romance with the legendary Howard Hughes but ended up in a happy marriage to a singer named Tony Martin. Cyd wanted a family more than she wanted fame & gave up the lead role in "An American in Paris" (one of my faves) to have a child with Tony. An interesting side note...Cyd was working on "Something's Gotta Give" with Marilyn Monroe, however, the film was never completed because Marilyn was fired from production & shortly after passed away.
Cyd Charisse had longevity in Hollywood and continued to make films, do ads, and star on the small screen. She is know today for her glittering musicals and sparkling dance moves. Fred Astaire once described her as "beautiful dynamite". Her dancing is fascinating to watch & her films a delight.

Some of her films are:
Ziegfeld Follies
The Harvey Girls (with Judy Garland)
On an Island With You
Brigadoon (Gene Kelly)
The Band Wagon (Fred Astaire)
Easy to Love (Esther Williams & Van Johnson)
Singing in the Rain (with Gene Kelly among many other big stars)
East side, West side (Ava Gardner, Barbara Stanwyck)
Silk Stockings (Fred Astaire)
And many, many more!
Interesting tidbit!...Cyd was in Janet Jacksons "Alright" video.

Cyd and her husband Tony Martin were married for over 60 years until her death this year (2008). A rare thing in Hollywood! She had two sons. Another interesting tidbit...Cyd is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records (2001) for having the "Most Valuable Legs" from an insurance policy MGM reportedly took out on her legs for $5 million! WOW! Charisse was admitted to the hospital on June 16, 2008, after suffering an apparent heart attack. She died the following day, aged 86.

OK, I know she is not French but still dazzling & fun to learn about! I hope you enjoyed it, I think I'm going to go watch "Silk Stockings" now, I love the sets, they are so opulent & the fashion is fantastic!

Photos via LEGS a tribute to Cyd Charisse & The Cyd Charisse Appreciation Page

Fred Astaire once remarked "That Cyd! When you've danced with her you stay danced with."

Bisou Mon Amis!
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  1. Geez--I have leg envy! I wish my legs looked HALF as good as these ladies!

  2. LOVE these photos!!! She was one amazingly talented and beautiful woman! Why do I long so much for the 1900's again?? Thank you for an inspiring post... makes me want to pick up my jazz shoes and hit the studio!

  3. Hi Judith!
    I have an unbelievable old black and white promo picture of Cyd from the movie 'Sombrero'. I'll have to search for it and either e-mail you a copy or put it on my site and link back to you. How's that sound? At the moment I'm up to my neck in costumes!

  4. Those legs were heaven - almost reached that far!
    Thank you for your lovely 'Tango' comment on French Essence xv

  5. Fabulous photo's...I wish I had those legs! Amanda x

  6. Love reading your posts, interesting stories.
    Have you had any time to do some research on he painter Roslin yet? He has also an amazing story to tell.

  7. Would LOVE to have LONG legs and that leopard/cheetah dress... meow!!! FUN!!!

    Thank you for participating in my giveaway... sorry you didn't win... BUT starting the 5th... I will be having weekly giveaways
    until the end of the year!
    ENJOY your weekend!

  8. When I started reading your blog I thought it was boring with all that yearning for nice things, Paris and stuff and honestly, I was about to stop reading but as I kept reading it through (being very curious by nature), I realized that it kept me wanting to read more. I loved your posts packed with detailed descriptions of French history and your post about the crown jewels, and was amazed by the one about the Paris Plage (I've never heard of it before). I realized that I have actually learned a lot from you. What's more, your posts made me look up all the places and names mentioned, so they made a good basis for a research of my own. Your blog is one of those "to follow" on my extensive list of web sites.
    Keep on with the good work.
    Best wishes, Ana (Serbia)


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