Marge Champion, one of the Golden Age’s most notable dancers, and the model for Disney’s animated classic, Snow White, has passed away at the age of 101.
Marge Champion: Legendary Dancer, Choreographer
According to Deadline, Champion began her career in the entertainment industry as a live-action model for Walt Disney, including the titular character in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, and the Hyacinth Hippo in Fantasia. That led to her first marriage with Disney animator Arthur Babbitt.
Along with her second husband and dance partner, Gower Champion, Marge achieved nationwide television fame in the late ’40s and ’50s, as regular performers on 1949’s Admiral Broadway Revue with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca.
That led to regular appearances on shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, Shower of Stars, and The Dinah Shore Show, and the couple briefly had their own TV show, The Marge and Gower Champion Show in 1957.
The professional partnership and marriage would eventually end, with Gower Champion finding more fame as a Broadway director of shows such as Bye Bye Birdie, Hello, Dolly!, and 42nd Street, while Marge Champion ventured into movies and did some Broadway herself, with her last appearance being in the 2001 revival of Follies.
Champion also took home an Emmy in 1975 for her choreography of the TV special Queen of the Stardust Ballroom.
A dance teacher for most of her life, Champion received the Disney Legend Award in 2007, was inducted into the National Museum of Dance’s Hall of Fame in 2009, and received a lifetime achievement honor at the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards.
Champion’s third marriage was to Rich Man, Poor Man director Boris Sagal in 1977 until his death in 1981. She was the stepmom of Katey Sagal, the Married With Children star who is now on ABC’s The Conners, as well as siblings Joey and (former Doublemint) twins Jean and Liz Sagal.
Her son is film director Gregg Champion, known best for directing the Woody Harrelson/Kiefer Sutherland vehicle, The Cowboy Way as well as serving as a supervising producer on many films including Short Circuit and Stakeout. He also used to date Kimberly MacArthur, the actress who replaced Robin Wright as Kelly on Santa Barbara before he married actress Christine Champion. They have three kids.
Entertainment Hub sends condolences to Marge Champion’s family, friends, and fans.