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Marge Champion (1919–2020), model for Snow White

by Linnea Crowther

Marge Champion was a dancer who was known for movie musicals, as well as for being the model for the main character of Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Disney model and dancer

Champion was a dancer all her life, and she was just a teen when she made her first notable contribution to the entertainment industry. She danced for Disney animators as they created “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), providing a model for them to base Snow White’s movement and dance on. She was also a model for a dance sequence when two dwarfs danced together, one on the other’s shoulders. Further work with Disney included modeling for the Blue Fairy in “Pinocchio” (1940) and for Hyacinth Hippo in “Fantasia” (1940). Champion went on to a career in movies, often dancing with her husband, Gower Champion. They starred in “Everything I Have Is Yours” (1952) as well as taking notable roles in films including “Show Boat” (1951), “Mr. Music” (1950), and “Three for the Show” (1955). Champion also danced on Broadway, including in the 2001 revival of “Follies.” She was honored with a Disney Legends Award in 2007.

Champion on “Snow White”

“There was no choreography: I was making it up as we went along and showing them how to dance. They were looking for the feelings that Snow White had when she was dancing with the dwarves. … They really used the motion that I invented when I was dancing with them.” —from a 2016 interview with Entertainment Weekly

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Tributes to Marge Champion

Full obituary: The New York Times

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