Marge Champion

Marge and Gower Champion were legendary in the '50s for their dancing in nightclubs, MGM musicals and on television. Born in Hollywood, Marge grew up in the center of the dance and movie world. Her father, Ernest Belcher, was the "dean" of the West Coast dance masters and staged many dance sequences for the movies. He trained Shirley Temple, Cyd Charisse, Gwen Verdon...and Marge.

Marge Champion began her dance career with Walt Disney as the live-action model for Snow White (1937), the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio (1940), and the Hippopotamus ballerina in Fantasia (1940). She appeared in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, on Broadway as the Fair Witch in Dark of the Moon, and in Beggar's Holiday.

During their collaboration, Marge and Gower Champion staged the dances for the Broadway musical revues Lend an Ear and Make a Wish. Their film appearances included Mr. Music (1950) with Bing Crosby, Show Boat (1951), Lovely to Look At (1952), That's Dancin! (1985), and That's Entertainment, Part II (1976), and on the television shows Toast of the Town, The Dinah Shore Show, and The Marge and Gower Champion Show. The Champions were awarded the 2002 Career Achievement Award of the 8th Annual American Choreography Awards. Ms. Champion was also the choreographer for Whose Life is it Anyway? (1981), The Day of the Locust (1974), and Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (1975), for which she received an Emmy Award.

Marge appeared with Donald Saddler in a six-month run in the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies in 2001. They also performed a show-stopping duet at Carnegie Hall Celebrates the Glorious MGM Musicals and began the 2006 New Year with Diane Sawyer, dancing live on Good Morning America. In 2007 Marge was honored with the Disney Legends Award and appeared in a collection of essays by New York Times columnist Dan Barry entitled City Lights as well as 80: Our Most Famous Eighty Year Olds Reveal Why They Never Felt So Young! She was featured in The Dancer Within: Intimate Conversations with Great Dancers by photographer Rose Eichenbaum and Hippo in a Tutu: Dancing in Disney Animation by Mindy Aloff.

In 2009, Marge made numerous appearances in California and London to promote the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in its restored Diamond Edition of Blu-ray and DVD formats from Walt Disney Home Entertainment. A short documentary entitled Keep Dancing (2009) about nonagenarians Marge Champion and Donald Saddler by Gregory Vander Veer and produced by Douglas B. Turnbaugh, co-producer of the film Ballets Russes (2005), was screened at The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Dance Films Association’s 2010 Dance on Camera Festival in New York in January 2010, at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, in March 2010 and at the Berkshire International Film Festival in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in June 2010. In June 2013, the 31st Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards will honor Marge with its Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award.

Marge Champion