|This article may rely excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral. (June 2013)|
|Born||Marjorie Celeste Belcher
September 2, 1919
Los Angeles, California, USA
|Occupation||Dancer, choreographer, and actress|
|Spouse(s)||Art Babbitt (1937–40)
Gower Champion (1947–73)
Boris Sagal (1977–81)
Marge Champion (born September 2, 1919) is an American dancer, choreographer, and actress.
Champion was born Marjorie Celeste Belcher in Los Angeles, California, to Hollywood dance director Ernest Belcher and Gladys Lee Baskette. She began dancing at an early age and became a ballet instructor at her father's studio at twelve. She was hired by Walt Disney Studios as a dance model for their animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Her movements were copied to enhance the realism of Snow White's movements. She later modelled for the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio Maid Marion in Robin Hood, and the Dancing Hippo in Fantasia.
As a dance team, she and husband Gower Champion (1919–1980), appeared in such MGM musicals of the 1940s and 50s as the 1951 version of Show Boat and 1952's Everything I Have Is Yours. MGM wanted the couple to remake Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films, but only one, Lovely to Look At (1952), a remake of 1935's Roberta, was completed. The couple refused to remake any of the others, the rights to which were still owned by RKO.
During the summer of 1957, the Champions had their own TV series, The Marge and Gower Champion Show, a situation comedy with song and dance numbers. Marge played a dancer and Gower a choreographer. Real-life drummer Buddy Rich was featured as a fictional drummer named Cozy.
She married Gower Champion in 1947. They had two sons, Blake and actor Gregg Champion, before divorcing in 1973.
Her third marriage, to director Boris Sagal, father of actress Katey Sagal, lasted from January 1, 1977, until his death on May 22, 1981, when he was killed in an accident during the production of the miniseries World War III.
In the 1970s, Champion, actress Marilee Zdenek, and choreographer John West were part of a team at Bel Aire Presbyterian Church that created a number of creative worship services, later offering workshops and related liturgical arts programs throughout the country. She and Zdenek co-authored two books, Catch the New Wind and God Is a Verb, related to this work.
Since retiring, Champion has worked as a dance instructor and choreographer in New York City. In 1982, she made a rare television acting appearance on the dramatic series Fame, playing a ballet teacher with a racial bias against African-American students. In 2001, she appeared as Emily Whitman in a Broadway revival of Follies.
Champion was inducted into the National Museum of Dance's Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame in 2009, and in 2013 she received The Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award at the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards ceremonies.
- Gary Brumburgh (2008). "Biography for Lina Basquette". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
- Harry Haun (2013). / "Still Lovely to Look At: A Lifetime Achievement Award for Dancing Diva Marge Champion From ‘Walt’s Folly’ to 'Follies'—at 93, she has all the right moves". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
- Marge Champion at the Internet Movie Database
- Marge Champion at the Internet Broadway Database
- Marge Champion at AllMovie
- Marge Champion at the TCM Movie Database
- Marge Champion performing Dancing in 1986 at Jacob's Pillow
- Archival footage from Jacob's Pillow PillowTalk: Hippo in a Tutu featuring Marge Champion, 8/28/2010
- Marge Champion interview video at the Archive of American Television