Cynthia Rhodes

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Cynthia Rhodes
Born (1956-11-21) November 21, 1956 (age 67)
Occupation(s)Actress, singer, dancer
Years active1970–1991
(m. 1989; div. 2014)

Cynthia Rhodes (born November 21, 1956) is a retired American actress, singer and dancer. Her film roles include Tina Tech in Flashdance (1983), Jackie in Staying Alive (1983), officer Karen Thompson in Runaway (1984), and Penny in Dirty Dancing (1987).


Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Rhodes began her show business career working at Opryland USA as a singer and dancer while attending Glencliff High School[citation needed] during the 1970s.[1] Raised in a Baptist family, Rhodes tried to maintain a clean-cut image in her acting roles and in the media, turning down scripts that required nudity and refusing offers to pose for pictorials in Playboy magazine. Sylvester Stallone, the director of Staying Alive, stated that Rhodes "would sooner quit the business before doing anything to embarrass her parents."[2]

Rhodes played a small role in the fantasy musical Xanadu (1980).[3] In 1982 she appeared in a video production called "The Tubes Video" directed by Russell Mulcahy and choreographed by Kenny Ortega. This 52-minute long-form music video featured Rhodes as one of three backup dancers for the San Francisco-based rock band The Tubes and includes hits such as "Talk to You Later", "Sushi Girl", "Sports Fans" and "Mondo Bondage".[4] Her next role was as Tina Tech in the musical film Flashdance. After Flashdance, Rhodes was cast opposite John Travolta in Sylvester Stallone's 1983 film Staying Alive, a sequel to the 1977 hit film Saturday Night Fever. Rhodes's character, Jackie, was an ensemble dancer, bar band singer, and sometime love interest of Travolta's character. While poorly reviewed, the film was commercially successful.[5]

Rhodes garnered her first non-dance related role in Michael Crichton's 1984 science fiction thriller Runaway with Tom Selleck, Kirstie Alley and Gene Simmons. Her most notable role was as dance instructor Penny Johnson in the hit 1987 motion picture Dirty Dancing with Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze. Rhodes's final motion picture role was the character of Vickie Phillips, playing opposite Jameson Parker, in the sleeper action-adventure movie Curse of the Crystal Eye.

Rhodes also appeared as a dancer in a number of music videos, including "Rosanna" by the band Toto, "The Woman in You" by the Bee Gees, and "Don't Mean Nothing" by Richard Marx. She was a dancer for the glam rock band The Tubes when they toured in the early 1980s. Rhodes later joined the pop group Animotion, replacing their lead singer Astrid Plane, for the recording of their third album of original material. Though the group's single "Room to Move" (from the film My Stepmother Is an Alien) rose to No. 9 on the Billboard charts, the album failed to match the group's earlier success, peaking at only No. 110 on the pop charts; shortly thereafter, the group disbanded. In 2002, Rhodes co-wrote the smooth jazz track "Perfect Day" with then-husband Richard Marx for December, trumpeter Chris Botti's holiday album.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Rhodes was married to singer-songwriter Richard Marx. They met in 1983 while Marx was working on the motion picture soundtrack for Staying Alive. Rhodes, who was seven years older than Marx, thought Marx was much too young for her to date at the time.[7] Marx and Rhodes did not start their relationship until two years later, when they were reacquainted at a party. After a four-year courtship, the couple married on January 8, 1989.[8] After marrying Marx and giving birth to three boys, Rhodes retired from her performing career to raise her family. In an Us Weekly article dated April 4, 2014, Marx's representative confirmed that he and Rhodes were divorcing after 25 years of marriage.[9]


with Animotion[edit]

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

Music video appearances[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
1980 Xanadu Ensemble dancer
1983 Flashdance Tina Tech
1983 Staying Alive Jackie Cole
1984 Fantasy Island Marlise Episode: "Goin' on Home/Ambitious Lady"
1984 Runaway Officer Karen Thompson
1985 Pee-wee's Big Adventure Jamie
1987 Dirty Dancing Penny Johnson
1991 Curse of the Crystal Eye Vickie Phillips


  1. ^ "Cynthia Rhodes Actor Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Yahoo!. Archived from the original on April 22, 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2008 – via
  2. ^ "Two for Travolta". People Magazine/AOL Time Warner. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved July 30, 2007 – via
  3. ^ "Cynthia Rhodes Bio". Retrieved July 30, 2007.
  4. ^ The Tubes Video (1981) (SP 1982 Music Video VHS Rip), retrieved September 12, 2020
  5. ^ "25 Worst Sequels Ever Made". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on September 18, 2008. Retrieved February 11, 2009.
  6. ^ "December 2002". Archived from the original on October 31, 2007. Retrieved November 26, 2007.
  7. ^ "Life After L.A". People Magazine/AOL Time Warner. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
  8. ^ "Richard Marx trades stardom for producing, parenthood". CNN/AOL/Time Warner. September 2, 2002. Archived from the original on April 6, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
  9. ^ "Richard Marx and Cynthia Rhodes Divorcing After 25 Years of Marriage". Wenner Media. April 4, 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2014.

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