From the moment I first saw Cyd Charisse outdance Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain, I adored her. Cyd, who would have been 90 years-old today, passed in 2008, but the legacy of her style and her great contribution to the Hollywood musical lives on.
Cyd began as a ballerina in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, but at the outbreak of World War II she got a job at MGM as the legendary Freed unit's resident ballet dancer. From there, she had a breakout role dancing with Fred Astaire in Ziegfeld Follies. She landed her first lead (with Astaire again) in The Bandwagon, but soon began working with Kelly, appearing in the iconic "Broadway Melody" ballet finale in all-time classic Singin' in the Rain, and well-known musical Brigadoon.
With all that dancing, it's no surprise that Cyd had fabulous legs, and she actually made the Guinness Book of World Records for most valuable gams because MGM took out a five million dollar insurance policy on them in 1952. Her choreography and technique have inspired generations of performers, and Janet Jackson even had Cyd make a cameo in her music video for "Alright." As an innovator, a dancer, and an amazing pair of legs, she's still a hard act to follow.
Photo courtesy Memory Lane