She was a great dancer but a mediocre singer.
Her movie vocalizing was usually dubbed. (Two of the dubbers were singers Carol Richards and Vikki Carr.)
She was indeed a woman of many professional names for various reasons. And the one she enjoyed most was Mrs. Tony Martin. Her marriage to the crooner lasted 60 years until her death in 2008 at the age of 86.
Cyd Charisse is remembered for her terpsichorean feats with the likes of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. “They are both delicious,” she intoned in her autobiography.
So was she.
Ok, on to the answers to our Cyd Charisse Quiz:
1) Question: For a woman born Tula Finklea in the Texas panhandle in 1922, Charisse at various time went by various exotic names in her career. Which one of the following was she NOT known by? a) Maria Istomina; b) Sarita; c) Lilly Norwood; or d) Mrs. Tony Martin.
Answer: b) Sarita. That was Charisse’s character name in a 1966 caper film with Dean Martin. Not one of her most distinguished efforts. As a teenager, Charisse toured Europe with the famous Ballet Russe under the name of Maria Istomina. When she broke into movies in the early 1940’s, she was known as Lily Norwood. (Her mother’s maiden name was Lela Norwood.)
2) Question: Charisse was a sickly child, who at first had trouble walking (not to mention dancing)? a) True; or b) False.
Answer: Amazingly, a) True. Charisse suffered fragile healthy as a youngster, and beat back a bout of polio. Dancing lessons were prescribed to strengthen her legs. The rest is history.
3) Question: As mentioned, Charisse was one of the selected few to dance onscreen with the masters, Astaire and Kelly. Which one of the following is NOT in this select group female costars? a) Judy Garland; b) Rita Hayworth; c) Ann Miller; or d) Vera- Ellen.
Answer: c) Ann Miller. Garland, Hayworth and Vera-Ellen are charter members of this select group as are Debbie Reynolds and Leslie Caron.
4) Question: Charisse either by bad luck or happenstance appeared in a half-dozen films starring which one of the following? a) Rudy Vallee; b) Ricardo Montalban; c) Gilbert Roland; or d) Oscar Levant.
Answer: Because she presented a vaguely ethnic look, Charisse was often cast in parts opposite ethnic leading men. One such was b) Mexican-born actor Ricardo Montalban. Together they appeared in six films including 1947’s Fiesta, 1948’s On An Island With You and 1953’s Sombrero.
5) Question: Due to accident or pregnancy, Charisse lost out on key roles in 1948’s Easter Parade and 1951’s An American in Paris. Who replaced her in these classic MGM musicals?
Answer: Ann Miller replaced Charisse in Easter Parade and Leslie Caron did so in An American in Paris.