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Cyd Charisse vs. Ann Miller


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We've had some pretty lively discussions in this forum comparing different acting legends. But after watching all three "That's Entertainment!" films aired earlier this week, I think I've fallen in love with BOTH these talented dancing ladies. I'm not sure I could choose between them if I had to do it. What great legs too (if you'll forgive me a chauvinistic statement;- )

 

Both made about 40 films, together in only a couple of them, including a scene showed in That's Entertainment III (1994) with Ricardo Montalban from The Kissing Bandit (1948). They were born within a couple of years of each other, though only Ms. Charisse is still with us (btw, she was still looking pretty good in 1994 @ 73!).

 

So, for those of you who've seen them in a lot more performances than I have, though I've seen Ms. Charisse in several more films than Ms. Miller, who would you rather watch dance?

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I like both dancers equally, but they are both very different. Charisse is essentially ballet and Miller is tap. Charisse had the good fortune to work longer at MGM than Miller and mostly had better roles. Miller's single solo numbers in her films practically stopped the show! BTW Charisse still looks good at 83 in 2004. Although she wasn't a top MGM star, Vera-Ellen was probably the best all around dancer. She could do every kind of dance and she also had the good fortune to work twice with Kelly and twice with Astaire.

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I find Ann Miller likable in a brassy kind of way, but Cyd Charisse just about sums up womanly perfection for me!

 

As edgecliffd said, Cyd didn't tap and Ann wasn't a ballerina. Beyond that, though, Cyd was by far the superior "jazz dancer" in my opinion. In "From This Moment On," Ann Miller has to try to keep up with a number of marvelous jazz dancers (including Bob Fosse), and I've never felt that she quite pulled it off.

 

And as great a tapper as Ann Miller was, I'd rather watch Eleanor Powell...

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I too like Eleanor Powell, but not as much as Ann Miller, maybe because I like MGM's technicolor musicals better than the B&W. Powell was a terrific tapper, but her one attempt at ballet in BROADWAY MELODY came off strictly awkward. Incidently, I heard some very nice stories about Powell. When fans came up to her door at her home in Beverly Hills asking for autographs she always invited them in. Probably today no star would attempt that, there are too many nuts running loose, so I wouldn't blame them.

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As you might know Chase had small dancing roles in two Astaire films: SILK STOCKINGS and DADDY LONG LEGS. I wonder if this is how Astaire came to know her and picked her to dance opposite him in their three TV musical specials. I wish these wonderful specials would be made available on DVD. Chase also appears in THE OPPOSITE SEX, MGM's musical remake of THE WOMEN.

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Both are phenomonal, what a tough question! If I had to choose, I would say Cyd Charisse was the better dancer, but Ann Miller was the better entertainer.

 

Any time Ann Miller came on screen, her dancing, her sense of humor and (her own) singing voice made it the highlight of the picture. But Cyd Charisse, (who's songs were usually-dubbed as many of you probably know,) danced on screen with both style and total power. In "Silk Stockings", for example, she had that great scene dancing "The Red Blues" and yet in the same picture she had a simple solo which consisted of her just getting dressed in her new silk stockings. Her movements made it into a unique dance unlike anything found in most other musicals.

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They say that both Kelly and Astaire said that Powell was "the best." But I think I would prefer Charisse or Miller.

 

It is difficult to compare them. Cyd Charisse was so beautiful and had those beautiful legs (that are well shown off in Singin' In The Rain). Cyd was in alot of great movies like Bandwagon, Brigadoon, It's Always Fair Weather, and Silk Stockings.

 

But Ann Miller was something else. She was never a leading lady, like Cyd was. Yet Ann sure could dance. I personnally have seen more Ann Miller movies, and I was suprised to read that for other people it was the other way around. Easter Parade, On the Town, Kiss Me Kate, Lovely to Look At, and Hit the Deck.

 

Did you know when Ann was 14, RKO said they would sign her if she could prove she was 18. She got her hands on a fake birth certificate and went on from there!

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I'm sorry, but it was Ginger. That twinkle in her eye, the girl next door, the sheer joy she put into every role she played in, thats why she was Great. She never seemed to be trying to make you like her, she was just likeable.

 

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According to Cyd Charisse in the "Cole Porter in Hollywood" extra on the Silk Stockings DVD, Astaire really noticed Barrie Chase while they were making Silk Stockings, though as you point out, she'd appeared briefly with him in Daddy Long Legs. In fact, to hear Cyd tell it, he "fell madly in love with her." I've read just about everything there is to read about Astaire, and it's still not clear to me whether he and Chase were a romantic couple. They certainly had the spark while dancing with each other, though!

 

I too desperately wish those "Evening With" specials would come out on DVD. They were restored in the early '90s by the UCLA film archives, but my tapes of them are getting fuzzy and worn!

 

> As you might know Chase had small dancing roles in

> two Astaire films: SILK STOCKINGS and DADDY LONG

> LEGS. I wonder if this is how Astaire came to know

> her and picked her to dance opposite him in their

> three TV musical specials. I wish these wonderful

> specials would be made available on DVD. Chase also

> appears in THE OPPOSITE SEX, MGM's musical remake of

> THE WOMEN.

 

 

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One thing about Ann Miller, not only was she a great tapper, but she was also a great singer! Other dancers like Charisse, Powell, Vera-Ellen had their voices dubbed.

 

BTW, its possible the the Astaire TV specials aren't available due to legal problems with Astaire's widow. She has control of everything and wants her name on everything and of course money!

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Edgecliff, Interesting info about Robyn Smith Astaire. Thanks.

 

Tough question. I like Ann Miller a lot, she seemed like such a nice person. I haven't seen much of Cyd Charisse's personality, but I do believe she's the more gifted dancer. And looks-wise, is it just me, or is Cyd a ringer for Ava Gardner -- at least at first glance?

 

Hey, didn't Ann appear opposite Cyd's real-life husband Tony Martin in HIT THE DECK? (BTW, I believe Mr. Martin, Alice Faye's first husband, is still alive at 90+).

 

BLU

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My father thinks Cyd has the best pair of legs he has ever seen. I remember her dancing at the Oscars in the late 80s or early 90s. She looked beautiful. It is hard to pick but my heart, my eye always goes to Ann Miller. Her delivery of the dance and of the lines she spoke were eyecatching. She in the movies always seem approachable were Cyd seemed aloof. I could watch them dance till kingdom come but I could watch the movie Miller is in from start to finish and I cannot the ones Cyd made. Is Silk Stockings the movie were she plays a russian woman and Peter Lorre is in it? I hate that movie. I haven't run into many movies Miller was in that I hated. Why couldn't Miller be a major player a leading lady like Cyd was given a chance to do instead of in the background? The dancing by these 2 ladies though is wonderful.

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bunderw170, I agree with the lookalike appearance of Charisse and Gardner. This was very, very apparent in the early 50's especially the way Charisse was photographed. Oddly enough I have never seen pictures of Charisse's son from her first marriage. I guess she kept her private life, private. BTW I met Miller and Charisse many times during my autographed collecting. Both are very nice. Miller was more outgoing very much like Janet Leigh. People think Charisse is aloof, but I blame this on what I am sure is basic shyness. Tony Martin incredibly is still active in showbiz and looks pretty good for age 90.

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The widow of Fred Astaire **** me off when she wouldn't give permission to use clips of her husband when Ginger Rogers was chosen for the Kennedy Center Honors. Can you imagine how awkward it was for Ginger at the affair, especially since she was Astaire's perennial dancing partner? Yet, she permits a commercial with Astaire dancing with a mop! She must have gotten big bucks for that one. Shame on her.

 

Mongo

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bansi4, the lady seems to be interested in money alone and she has to have her name on everything released today that is associated with Astaire at MGM. She says she is protecting the Astaire name and like you said why the commercial!

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Ann Miller in "Kiss Me Kate" does it for me it's one of my favorites also "On The Town " Ann's dancing made you

want to get up and dance with you!.....

Ann's personality to her fans & on screen lights you up

she had PIAZZZZZZ in every way! lolite.

I think Syd had great legs but no warmth to her

personna sorry its my opinon, the lady could dance like

a swan very graceful everytime. lolite.

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