Born Tula Ellice Finklea March 8, 1922 in Amarillo, Texas. Born to
be a dancer, she spent her early childhood taking ballet lessons and
joined the Ballet Russe at age 13.
In 1943, she appeared in
her first film, Something to Shout About.
Charisse was the
leading lady in the 1951 film The Wild North with Stewart
Granger, which was a huge hit. Gene Kelly chose Charisse to partner
with him in the celebrated "Broadway Melody" ballet finale from
Singin' in the Rain (1952), which was acknowledged soon after
release as one of the greatest musicals of all time.
Charisse had a slightly unusual serious acting role in Party
Girl in 1958, where she played a showgirl who became involved
with gangsters and a crooked lawyer, although it did include two
dance routines. It was far more profitable to MGM than her musicals.
Also in 1958 she co-starred with Rock Hudson in Twilight for the
In the 1970s Charisse guest starred on shows such as Medical
Center, Hawaii Five-O, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Fall Guy,
Glitter, Murder, She Wrote, and Crazy Like a Fox.
Her last film appearance was in 1994 in That's Entertainment!.
Charisse died June 17, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. She was
inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in Austin in March 2002.