Biography: Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief was born on January 24, 1925 in Fairfax, Oklahoma to Alexander Joseph Tall Chief and Ruth Porter. She performed with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo for five years, and then became the star of the New York City Ballet for 18 years. She founded the Chicago City Ballet and served as its artistic director from 1981-1987. She married George Balanchine, then Elmourza Natirboff, and then Henry D. Paschen Jr., with whom she had one child.
Film/TV Credits: "Million Dollar Mermaid" and "Season's Greetings."
Other Awards: Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in 1996. Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1996. Awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1999.
Trivia: She wrote an autobiography in 1997 with Larry Kaplan entitled "Maria Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina."
She created the "Sugar Plum Fairy" role in George Balanchine's production of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker."
She was the first American to perform in Moscow's Bolshoi Theater.