The actor Marge Champion, who was used by Disney as a model for the movement and appearance of Snow White, has passed away at the age of 101.
Champion was a star dance performer during the classic Hollywood era, appearing frequently alongside her husband and dance partner Gower Champion.
Some of her most notable credits include the beloved 1951 take on Show Boat, Mr Music and Lovely to Look At.
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She became involved in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through her ballet teacher father Ernest Belcher, who was a personal friend of Walt Disney.
The studio enlisted the teenage Champion as a model in order to allow them to animate Snow White more realistically in the 1937 movie.
She would work on a sound stage for several days a month over the course of two years, earning the princely sum of $10 (£7.63) a day.
Snow White was released to enormous acclaim and box office success to the extent that, when inflation is taken into account, it’s still the highest-grossing animation ever made.
It launched Disney’s animation empire and earned Walt Disney an honorary Oscar.
Former Disney Imagineer Eddie Sotto was among those paying tribute to Champion on social media, praising her for injecting the “illusion of life” into Snow White, with Bette Midler also sharing a memory.
We lost the "pixie dust" of the Blue Fairy
(and Snow White) today with the passing of the talented dancer Marge Champion who modeled for the animators.
Thanks for helping to inject "the illusion of life!" pic.twitter.com/6vs1bevTRZ
— Eddie Sotto (@boss_angeles) October 22, 2020
The beautiful #MargeChampion has died at 101. Before I started in “Hello Dolly” I had lunch with her just to hear some tales; she was Gower Champion’s assistant on #Dolly. We howled. She gave me a lesson in how to come down stairs without looking down; sadly...it didn’t work.
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) October 22, 2020
Champion’s work with Disney continued after Snow White, again serving as a model for Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, Hyacinth Hippo in Fantasia, and Mr Stock in Dumbo.
She won an Emmy for her work as choreographer on the 1975 telefilm Queen of the Stardust Ballroom.
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Champion received wide acclaim for her collaborations with her husband, from whom she divorced in 1973. He passed away in 1980 at the age of 61.
Champion’s final acting credit was in a 1982 episode of the television series Fame.
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