Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Musical star Charisse dies in LA

Cyd Charisse, a former co-star of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, has died in Los Angeles aged 86, her publicist says.

The actress-dancer from Texas died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after suffering an apparent heart attack on Monday, Gene Schwam said.

The long-legged star appeared in a number of films, but her fame came from the musicals of the 1940s and 1950s.

She sang and danced with legends Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain, and Fred Astaire in Silk Stockings.

At the height of her fame the film company said her long legs were insured for a million dollars. But her talent was enough to make her an essential part of the golden age of Technicolor musicals.

"Her beauty was breathtaking," Debbie Reynolds, who starred with Charisse in the 1952 classic Singin' in the Rain, said in a statement.

"The world will miss her dancing."

Born Tula Ellice Finklea in 1921, Charisse began her career dancing with the Ballet Russe as a teenager. During a European tour she met Nico Charisse, a young French dancer with whom she had trained in Los Angeles. They married in Paris in 1939.