Cyd Charisse, the legendary American dancer and actress, has died of a heart attack.

Charisse's publicist said the star, in her late 80s, passed away in the western U.S. city of Los Angeles on Tuesday morning.
Charisse starred in Hollywood musicals during the 1940s and 50s, sharing the screen with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelley.  She was known for her great beauty and her versatility as a dancer.  

The dancer, whom Astaire described as "beautiful dynamite," had her first big break when she appeared in the 1952 classic "Singin' in the Rain."  She later appeared in "Brigadoon" and "It's Always Fair Weather," among other musicals.

Charisse was born Tula Ellice Finklea in the southern U.S. town of Amarillo, Texas.  She was trained as a classical ballerina and danced with the Ballet Russe as a teenager, before finding her true calling as a screen star.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.