USA Today’s Jim Cheng said it best: “Talk about a career with legs.” The beautiful dancer from Hollywood’s golden age died today at age 86. Born Tula Ellice Finklea in Amarillo, Texas, she was a professional ballerina at age 16 and appearing as a specialty dancer and then a leading lady on screen soon after, dancing opposite Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Fred Astaire said of their appearances together in “The Band Wagon” and “Silk Stockings,” “When you’ve danced with her, you stay danced with.” Watch this number from “The Band Wagon.” She plays a ballerina who has not been getting along with her co-star (Astaire), an old school hoofer. One night, they go for a walk together and just naturally begin this lovely little number to “Dancing in the Dark.” Like most great movie dance numbers it tells a story about their relationship, very different at the end of the dance than it was at the beginning.
These are among my favorites: