Tula Ellice Finklea
From her earliest years she was called Sid, because her older brother couldn't say "sister." She was a sickly girl who started taking dance lessons to build up her strength after a bout with polio. Cyd studied ballet as a child and later joined the Ballet Russe in 1934 as 'Felia Sidorova' and became part of the corps de ballet and toured the U.S. and Europe. To appear Russian with the nearly All-Russian company, she was first billed as 'Celia Siderova,' than as 'Maria Istromena.' Cyd was also known as 'Maria Istomina', 'Felia Sidorva' and 'Lily Norwood' in many ballet theater programs.
After her fathers death, Cyd moved to Los Angeles where she met Nico and they partnered up as dance partners, then later Nico became Cyd's dance teacher. Later, Cyd married Nico Charisse in 1939. In the 1930's, Nico Charisse taught dance in Hollywood at 1358 N. La Brea and was quite a famous dancer in his day. One of his students at his studio was 12 year old Tula Finklea a.k.a. Cyd Charisse. Five years later they eloped in 1939 while in France - she was only 17.
They have one son together (Nicky.) Their marriage ended in divorce in 1947 and Cyd Charisse later married singer Tony Martin. In 1953 Nico, age 46, married another student of his, Zita Torres, age 26. He continued to
Coach a number of entertainers in his style of dance during his years in Hollywood. Nico Charisse died in 1970 at age 64. Robert Tucker and Nenette Charisse married, Tucker was a Choreographer and Nenette was Cyd's Aunt who was a ballet teacher. Cyd was related to Zan Charisse, Nana Visitor, Ian Tucker.
Cyd later danced with many movie greats such as Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire plus danced with others such as Ricardo Montalban, Roland Petit, and James Mitchell as well as acted and danced in many other movies. Cyd was said to have the best legs in show business at the time and was sometimes billed as having "the most celebrated set of legs in Hollywood history." Cyd Charisse died in 2008 at age 86.