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Cyd Charisse Died And Took A Piece Of Me With Her

Updated on June 18, 2008

These are the times when I feel my age. When I realize that I'm no different than a lot of other people who were in their forties when I was turning twenty and laughing at them. With my Sony Walkman firmly planted in my ears listening to Culture Club (and who am I kidding, Liza Minnelli) I scoffed at them when they tried to tell me things were better "back in the day" and now like some odd twist of karmic fate, I find that I have become that person. I've become the older generation and so it has happened again, another celebrity death but this time Cyd Charisse died and took a piece of me with her - Don't Get Me Started!

It's not the creaking bones in the morning, it's not trying to figure out how to use all the features on my cell phone that makes me feel old, for me it's all about the business that I tried desperately to get into but every time I packed my bags to make the move I found the door locked. Show business has always been a very large part of my life. I was on stage at the age of six until my late thirties (and sometimes in an actual theatre). I acted out my life on stages with less than ten million people watching and now I'm singing my song for you. (Please forgive me Leon Russell for the bastardization of your amazing lyrics to A Song For You) I truly am the Greatest Never Was Been There's Ever Been.

And so when it came across what used to be the airwaves and is now the cyberwaves (I guess) that Cyd Charisse died, a piece of me died too. You see, to those of us Never Was Beens when a celebrity dies it means that your childhood dream of meeting them and possibly working with them is over. No, you'll never get to tell her that watching her dance with Fred Astaire in Bandwagon made you want to and helped you eventually become a choreographer. You'll never be able to put her in dance position and feel as though you're holding history in your arms. And so it's with a glass half empty, filled with melancholy that it makes me look at all of show business when a legend dies, filled not so much with regret but with a sense of nostalgia that catches in my throat.

If I could pick a different time to be born I would always choose the 1930's 0r 1940's when the Golden Age of Hollywood was in full swing. When you think that the Jazz Singer (attributed as one of the first talkies) came out in 1927 and a mere twelve years later the studios were turning out Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz I can only imagine how electrifying it must have been to live in Hollywood during those days. I'd gladly give up the microwave oven and the cell phone to get the opportunity to be around the studios in those days. But alas, with time travel not an option I'm left looking at a Hollywood run by corporations now (not visionary Jewish moguls) and as if it isn't enough that Hollywood has lost all its glamour, so too has the Broadway stage.

There was a time when you looked to Broadway to be entertained by the top talent in the world. To make it there, you could truly make it anywhere and to a lot of us young hopefuls it was THE place. But like so many things that have been lost along the way, Broadway I fear is gone forever, or is it? You see the corporations have taken over Broadway as well. You look at celebrities (not actors) who have little to no talent and yet because they'll sell some seats they're staring on Broadway. And in case you've missed out on this change taking place or don't understand it, let me give you an example which completely illustrates my point.

When A Chorus Line opened in the 1970's it was ground breaking. Not just because the characters were derived from actual stories of Broadway dancers (known as "gypsies") but also because the characters on the stage weren't all the best dancers or singers in the world. Now the actors playing the characters may have been but they performed as their characters, singing and dancing like the people they were portraying. There were no stars of A Chorus Line because it was designed to celebrate the chorus dancers that go from show to show in the ensembles and their journeys to make it onto Broadway. While Donna McKecchnie was well known she was not a Broadway legend (yet). So when they decided to revive A Chorus Line I knew there would be problems. Forget that the stories the characters told might seem dated (talking about Ed Sullivan and Robert Goulet), even with original cast members creating the show, they wouldn't be able to get away from the fact that corporate America runs Broadway now and that with American Idol and all the reality talent competition shows afoot, the kids they would get to be in the show wouldn't get the show at all. So when you see A Chorus Line 2007/2008 you see a glossy show with everyone performing to their best (not their character's best) and you have someone like Mario Lopez as Zach - he can't act, sing or dance but he's been on Dancing With The Stars so he's box office.

I'll accept the moniker of being one of the "older generation" with pride because I can still remember being moved to tears by Bette Davis in Now Voyager, being made to laugh by Donald O'Connor in Singin' In The Rain and sitting in an audience in the late 70's when A Chorus Line toured through Arizona as a young man feeling every word of "Paul's" story because it was close to mine. (I'm suddenly hearing Killing Me Softly - by Roberta Flack in my mind.) I'm sorry that Hollywood and Broadway have gone from a Golden Age to a Bronze Age (at best) yet when I saw Patti LuPone on the Tony's singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses" it gave me hope too. So all is not lost, I suppose but one thing is for certain, Cyd Charisse died and took a piece of me with her - Don't Get Me Started!

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    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 6 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Cyd Charisse was one of my idols when I was a girl. I had a full page photo of her torn out of a magazine tacked on my bedroom wall. What legs she had! and beauty besides. Truly a wonderful dancer.

    • profile image

      Huntley 9 years ago

      I had the very same thought and emotion when I heard this news too. I was just commenting the other day about how so few of the current movies really inspire you to watch them over and over of those reasons is because so few of the actors make you want to watch "a moment" over and over again. Of course, the same can be said for intoxicating it can be to discover new talent that really makes you stop and notice and want more.

      Hope you are well.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 9 years ago from South Africa

      I also become whimsical when any one of the famous people dies. be they movie stars or some other ilk. I too keep looking back at the past in my mundane way.

      Great stirring and thought provoking hub

    • gunsock profile image

      gunsock 9 years ago from South Coast of England

      Nice hub. There are still some very talented actors and actresses around but the ambience of the pre-TV Hollywood can never be duplicated. I know just how you feel. When one of the stars from the Golden Age dies, something has gone which can never be replaced.

    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 9 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      Yes, it's true - the Great Ones are dying off, and there are so few really qualified to take their places.