CYD CHARISSE DEAD AT 86

Last Updated: June 17, 2008By Tags:

(BY SAÏDEH PAKRAVAN) Quick, the silver screen’s most legendary legs! The French call perfectly proportioned lower limbs jambes de star, but there aren’t that many. Funny, come to think of it, that the cinema, with so many perfectly beautiful women, would not have that many renowned for their legs. The no-contest of course is Marlene Dietrich, the German über star for whom the word sultry should have been invented, who made movie history with her throaty singing, the imperious droop of her upper eyelids, her brave stance against the Nazis—making her much reviled in her native land—and last but certainly not least, her incredibly long, sexy legs, clad in black, most memorably, in Der Blaue Engel. Poor Emil Jannings, the professor done in by a temptress of that caliber in the classic 1930 Josef von Sternberg film, didn’t stand a chance. Who else? Angie Dickinson had spectacular gams and directors never let the audience forget it, think Howard Hawks showing them off in Rio Bravo. But if culture is, as someone said, what remains when you’ve forgotten everything you knew, the seminal image of perfect legs in our film lover’s subconscious, the one that comes immediately behind that of the Blue Angel sitting astride her chair in top hat and fishnet stockings, must surely be that of Cyd Charisse, her long, strong, shapely dancer’s legs following the ineffable Fred Astaire move for move in The Bandwagon or Silk Stockings. May he have opened his arms to lead her once more in one of their classic numbers, may they be gliding effortlessly on the great sea of clouds yonder.

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