Marge Champion

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Marge Champion's Geni Profile

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Marjorie Celeste "Marge" Champion (Belcher)

Immediate Family:

Daughter of Ernest Belcher and Gladys Lee Baskette
Wife of Gower Carlyle Champion and Boris Sagal
Ex-wife of Art Babbitt
Mother of <private> Champion
Half sister of Lina Copeland Basquette

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Immediate Family

About Marge Champion

Marge Champion (born September 2, 1919) is an American dancer, choreographer, and actress.

Early years

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 and the Dancing Hippo in Fantasia.


As a dance team, she and husband Gower Champion (1921–1980), 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.

Marge Champion's first marriage was to Art Babbitt (1907–1992), a top animator at Disney. 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 (1972; Word Books, ASIN: B00005VJEH) and God Is a Verb (1976; Word Books, ASIN: B000IOCVXW), 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.

She is the half-sister of actress Lina Basquette.

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Marge Champion's Timeline

September 2, 1919