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Byline: Tony Parsons

MY vote for the greatest moment in any Hollywood film goes to the 15-minute Broadway ballet dance sequence in Singin' In the Rain.

I first saw it on some rainy Sunday afternoon as a kid and it made my jaw drop. When the sad news came through that Cyd Charisse had died at the age of 86, I watched it again.

And it still made my jaw drop.

If you have ever seen the scene, then you will never forget it. Gene Kelly - muscular, athletic and built like a middleweight boxer - plays a young dancer trying to make it on Broadway.

He meets, falls for and loses Cyd Charisse, who plays a gangster's moll.

Gene Kelly is just brilliant - for all of Fred Astaire's silky grace, it was always Kelly who looked like an ordinary guy who could dance like a dream. But if Kelly's good, Cyd is something more.

Without saying a word, Cyd Charisse dances for the sexiest 15 minutes Hollywood ever produced. She is seduction made flesh, blood and silk stockings. It is shocking to read that she was only 5ft 6ins tall, because most of that must have been leg.

Cyd Charisse was never a star to match Monroe or Garbo, but for my money she was greater than all of them. Half-crippled by polio as a kid in Texas, she took up ballet to strengthen her limbs. And when she dances in the handful of movies that made her famous - Singin' In The Rain and Brigadoon with Gene Kelly, Silk Stockings and The Band Wagon with Fred Astaire - she has that touch of class Hollywood had never seen before, and would never see again.

I once wrote a book called Man And Boy. There was only one name I could give to the girl the guy falls in love with - Cyd. Because I fell hard for Cyd Charisse as a little kid and never got over it. The fact that her second marriage, to the singer Tony Martin, lasted for 60 years somehow made her sexier.

"Beautiful dynamite," Astaire called her, and that just about captures the slow-burning seduction that she made her own. Rest in peace, Cyd Charisse. Your dancing days will live for ever.


RAINY DAY With Gene Kelly
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 23, 2008
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