Cyd Charisse was an American actress and dancer.
After recovering from polio as a child, and studying ballet, Charisse entered films in the 1940s. Her roles usually focussed on her abilities as a dancer, and she was paired with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly; her films include Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon and Silk Stockings. She stopped dancing in films in the late 1950s, but continued acting in film and television, and in 1992 made her Broadway debut.
In her later years, she discussed the history of the Hollywood musical in documentaries, and participated in That’s Entertainment! III in 1994. She was awarded the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities in 2006.
Charisse was born as Tula Ellice Finklea in Amarillo, Texas, the daughter of Lela and Ernest Enos Finklea, Sr., who was a jeweler. Her nickname “Sid” was taken from a sibling trying to say “Sis”. She was a sickly girl who started dancing lessons at six to build up her strength after a bout with polio. At 12, she studied ballet in Los Angeles with Adolph Bolm and Bronislava Nijinska, and at 14, she auditioned for and subsequently danced in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as “Felia Siderova” and, later, “Maria Istomina”.