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Marge Champion, Dance Legend of Stage and Screen, Dies at 101

October 22nd, 2020 | By Caitlin Moynihan

Marge Champion, a legendary dancer for the stage and screen, who also was the model for Disney’s Snow White and the and the Seven Dwarfs, died on October 21. She was 101 years old.

Champion worked on Broadway both as a choreographer and actor. She made her Broadway acting debut in 1943’s What’s Up and went on to perform in Dark of the Moon (1945), Beggar’s Holiday (1946), 3 for Tonight (1955), and the 2001 revival of Follies. Champion served as a choreographer for Lend an Ear (1948), Make a Wish (1951), and Stepping Out (1987). She was a special assistant for the original production of Hello, Dolly!, which was directed and choreographed by her husband Gower Champion.

The couple, who married in 1947 and divorced in 1973 prior to Gower’s death in 1980, worked together on multiple movies for MGM Studios. Most notably, the couple appeared in the 1951 remake of Show Boat. Marge Champion’s other film credits include Mr. Music, Lovely to Look At, I Won’t Dance and Everything I Have Is Yours. She won an Emmy Award in 1975 for choreographing the television movie Queen of the Stardust Ballroom.

Not only did Champion serve as the real-life model for Disney’s Snow White, but she also was the inspiration behind the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio and the tutu-wearing hippo ballerinas in the “Dance of the Hours” number in Fantasia.

Champion received the Disney Legend Award in 2007 and was inducted into the National Museum of Dance’s Hall of Fame in 2009. She was honored with lifetime achievement recognition at the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards in 2013. She also served on the Tony Awards nominating committee.

Here’s a look at Champion with husband Gower in the moview version of Show Boat.

 

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