Champion, Marge

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Biographical Note

  • 1919, Sept. 2: Born Marjorie Belcher, Los Angeles, California
  • 1934: Modeled for Walt Disney's animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • 1936: Stage debut at the Hollywood Bowl performing with Los Angeles Civic Opera
  • 1937: Married Disney animator Art Babbitt (1907-1992) (divorced 1940)
  • 1939: Starred in Universal film Honor of the West, directed by George Waggner Appeared as one of Irene’s girlfriends in the Astaire-Rogers film The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle Toured with the Three Stooges
  • 1940: Modeled for Disney films Fantasia and Pinocchio
  • 1942: Married television media personality Alexander King (1899-1965) (divorced circa 1945)
  • 1943: Appeared on Broadway in Lerner and Loewe musical What’s Up, directed and choreographed by George Balanchine (some sources incorrectly list her name as “Marjorie Beecher”)
  • 1945: Formed “Gower and Bell” with Gower Champion Starred on Broadway in the Richardson and Berney play Dark of the Moon (as the Fair Witch)
  • 1946: Starred in Jerome Kern musical Sally at the Papermill Playhouse, New Jersey
  • 1947: Married Gower Champion (1921-1980) (divorced 1973) Appeared on Broadway in Duke Ellington’s only musical, Beggar’s Holiday (billed as Marjorie Belle as The Lookout, The Girl, and the Lead Dancer)
  • 1948 - 1950 : Assistant to the choreographer (Gower Champion) for Broadway show Lend an Ear, starring Carol Channing
  • 1949: Appeared in Dark of the Moon on television
  • 1950: Marge and Gower appeared in Paramount film Mr. Music, with Bing Crosby
  • 1951: Marge and Gower starred and danced in MGM musical film Show Boat, with Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson
  • 1952: Marge and Gower starred and danced in the MGM musical film Everything I Have is Yours Marge and Gower starred and danced in the MGM musical Lovely to Look At, remake of Astaire-Rogers film Roberta (featured Champions dancing in “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and dancing and singing in “I Won’t Dance”)
  • 1953: Marge and Gower starred and danced in MGM musical film Give a Girl a Break, directed by Stanley Donen
  • 1955: Marge and Gower starred and danced in MGM musical film Jupiter’s Darling Marge and Gower danced in Columbia Pictures film Three for the Show Marge and Gower starred on Broadway in 3 for Tonight, directed by Gower Champion Starred in CBS television special 3 for Tonight
  • 1957: Marge and Gower appeared in episode of General Electric Theater television show entitled “Mischief at Bandy Leg” Marge and Gower Champion Show, a television situation comedy, premiered on CBS
  • 1961: Starred in Invitation to March at La Jolla
  • 1964: Starred in Everybody Out, the Castle is Sinking!, which never made it to Broadway (opened in Boston at the Colonial Theater)
  • 1964 - 1970 : Special assistant on Hello Dolly!, directed and choreographed by Gower Champion
  • 1965: Starred in High Button Shoes, St. Louis Muny Opera
  • 1965 - 1966 : Prepared to star on Broadway in The Playroom (cannot verify that she actually appeared in the show)
  • 1966: Starred in The Women, with Gloria Swanson and Julie Adams
  • 1968: Appeared in MGM film The Party, directed by Blake Edwards Appeared in Columbia film The Swimmer, directed by Frank Perry
  • 1969 - 1973 : Involved in the Mafundi Institute where she had a dance floor installed
  • 1970: Choreographed Jean Genet’s The Blacks for the Mafundi Institute (located in the Watts district of Los Angeles), directed by Ivan Dixon
  • 1975: Dance supervisor for Paramount film The Day of the Locust, directed by John Schlesinger Choreographer for Columbia television film Queen of the Stardust Ballroom Won Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography for Queen of the Stardust Ballroom
  • 1976: Appeared in That’s Entertainment, Part II, MGM film that presented “golden moments” from its film library. Marge and Gower Champion were represented by a clip from the 1952 MGM film Lovely to Look At
  • 1977: Married television and film director Boris Sagal (1923-1981)
  • 1978: Choreographer on three episodes of Warner Bros. television mini-series The Awakening Land Directed two-woman play Women and Other People
  • 1980: Gower Champion died just hours before the Broadway opening of 42nd Street, which he was directing
  • 1981: Champion’s husband, Boris Sagal, killed when he walked into the blades of a helicopter while on location
  • 1982: Appeared as a ballet instructor in an episode of the television series Fame Directed RKO television movie I Do!, I Do! Host of Symphony in Three Movements television special honoring 100th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s birth
  • 1983: Starred on Broadway in 5-6-7-8...Dance!
  • 1985: Appeared in ABC television’s Night of 100 Stars II celebrity benefit for the Actors Fund of America Provided additional staging for Tonight at 8:30 at the Williamstown Theater Festival
  • 1987: Marge and Gower’s son Blake Champion died at the age of 25 Marge donated Blake’s Barn to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in his memory Choreographic associate for Broadway’s Stepping Out, directed and starring Tommy Tune Choreographer for Grover’s Corners, a musical version of Our Town, at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Illinois
  • 1988: Directed and choreographed Stepping Out at the Berkshire Theater Festival
  • 1989: Directed Lute Song at the Berkshire Theater Festival
  • 1990: Starred in No, No, Nanette at the St. Louis MUNY Opera Choreographed She Loves Me at the Berkshire Theater Festival
  • 1991: Received the Legends of the Dance Award at Florida State’s Triple Crown Ballroom Dance Championship
  • 1997: Received the Commonwealth Award from the state of Massachusetts
  • 2001: Appeared in Broadway revival of Follies
  • 2009: Inducted into National Museum of Dance's Hall of Fame, Saratoga, New York

From the guide to the Marge Champion Collection, 1910-2006, (bulk 1940-1990), (Music Division Library of Congress)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Marge Champion Collection, 1910-2006, (bulk 1940-1990) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Johnny Green additional papers, 1923-1989. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Lucille Lortel papers, 1902-2000 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn The Bell Telephone Hour collection of sound recordings [sound recording], 1940-1968 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Belcher, Ernest, 1883-1973 person
correspondedWith Champion, Gower, 1919-1980 person
correspondedWith Green, Johnny, 1908-1989 person
associatedWith Jacob's Pillow. corporateBody
associatedWith Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. corporateBody
associatedWith Lortel, Lucille person
associatedWith Mafundi Institute (Watts, Los Angeles, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. corporateBody
associatedWith Saddler, Donald person
associatedWith Sagal, Boris, 1923-1981 person
associatedWith Sifriyah le-maḥol, Yiśraʼel. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Actors
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1919-09-02

Americans

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