Marge Champion was born September 2, 1919 in Los Angeles, CA. The daughter of ballet master Ernest Belcher, Marge grew up studying ballet under her father’s tutelage and began teaching ballet at his studio at age 12. In 1936 she performed in several productions with the LA Opera, and in 1937 she worked with Disney. She was the human figure model for the character Snow White and later modeled for the Blue Fairy in “Pinocchio” (1940) and the Dancing Hippo in “Fantasia.”
She made her live action film debut in “The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle” (1939). After a short marriage to a Disney animator, Champion began dancing with Gower Champion in a duo called the “Champion & Bell” team. After marrying in 1947, they became known as Marge and Gower Champion. Together they appeared in several films and television shows. Film producers wanted to recreate Ginger & Rogers films with the duet, but they refused. In 1957 they hosted their own television show, “The Marge & Gower Champion Show”. Marge and Gower eventually separated, divorcing in 1973.
On her own, Marge took on some acting only roles in films such as “The Party” and “The Swimmer”, both released in 1968. She also began choreographing for the camera. In 1975 she received an Emmy for Choreography for her work on the television movie “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom”.
In 1977 she married her third husband, Boris Sagal. She began work in liturgical dance and choreographed miniseries that featured music and dance. In 1981 Sagal was tragically killed on location, and consequently Marge cut back on her activities.
In 2009 she was inducted into the National Museum of Dance’s Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame, and she was honored with the Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award at the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards ceremony in 2013.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (1952)
Marge Champion Archival Interview: Part 1 of 10 (2008)
Turner Classic Movies Biography:
Article: New York Observer. “Still Lovely to Look At: A Lifetime Achievement Award for Dancing Diva Marge Champion” (May 2013):
Article: Huffington Post. “Marge Champion, Dance Legend and Model For Disney’s ‘Snow White,’ To Receive Astaire Awards Honor” (May 2013):
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