Marge Champion, dancer, actor and model for 'Snow White,' dies at 101

Champion and her husband, Gower Champion, also had great success as dance partners and choreographers for Broadway musicals, films and television shows.
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Champion in New York City on March 1, 1942.CBS Photo Archive / CBS via Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

Marge Champion, a dancer and actor who served as the real-life model for Disney's 1937 animated classic "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," died on Wednesday in Los Angeles, according to The New York Times. She was 101.

Champion and her husband, Gower Champion, also had great success as dance partners and choreographers for Broadway musicals, films and television shows. Champion won an Emmy award in 1975 for choreographing the television movie "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom."

Marge and Gower Champion most notably danced together in multiple MGM musicals, including the 1951 remake of "Show Boat" starring Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson and Ava Gardner.

Marge and Gower Champion dance in "Show Boat" in 1951.Film Publicity Archive / United Archives via Getty Images

In addition to "Snow White," Champion's elegant dance moves served as the inspiration for the Blue Fairy in "Pinocchio" and the tutu-wearing hippo ballerinas in the "Dance of the Hours" number in "Fantasia."

The Champions danced across television screens in the late 1940s and 1950s, first appearing in "Admiral Broadway Revue" with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca on NBC. Their performances sparkled with built-in narratives, touches of parody and hints of nostalgia. They also were featured on "The Bell Telephone Hour," "General Electric Theater," "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show." The received their own sitcom, "The Marge and Gower Champion Show" in 1957.

Champion poses in an undated photograph.Nina Leen / The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Champion's film credits include "Mr. Music," "Show Boat," "Lovely to Look At," "I Won't Dance" and "Everything I Have Is Yours." On Broadway, she performed in "Make a Wish," "Dark of the Moon" and "Beggar's Holiday." She also taught dance and choreography in New York and was a member of the Tony Awards nominating committee.