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RIP Cyd Charisse (Updated)

June 18, 2008

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Arguably the greatest female dancer of the classic era of Hollywood musicals, and a performer who graced several of the very best of them, has passed on. I could ramble on, but her work speaks more loudly than anything I might say. So, through the miracle of YouTube, we’ll start with a number from an all but forgotten late MGM musical, Meet Me in Las Vegas where, for once, she doesn’t have to compete with a better known male star.

And here’s probably her most famous moment on film — and, this time at least, her dance partner was pretty worthy of the honor.

What I hadn’t really realized until just now was that, earlier in her career Ms. Charisse starred in a number of lower budget musicals with Ricardo Montalban. Here’s a tango from one of those.

And, finally, a highlight from by far my favorite Cyd Charisse performance. This looks like the most fun she ever had on screen.

Greencine has more and Brian Doan takes a closer look.

UPDATE: There’s been an awful lot of nice stuff written since I slapped the above together (and a lot of us seem to be using certain of the same YouTube clips). Most of it is linked to at Greencine above and also by Brian and Dennis Cozzalio. However, I do want to draw your attention to the following: the Siren for her sweetly/tartly touching tribute; Karina Longworth for her pushing of the obituary envelope just a touch with some intriguing critical musings (I think she’s onto something about the matter of chemistry); and Marilyn Ferdinand for some nice thoughts and an amazing signed pic.

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