Model For Disney’s Snow White Passes Away at 101

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marge champion

Marge Champion, Walt Disney’s model for his first princess, Snow White, has passed away at age 101.

A 1975 Emmy Award winner, Champion was an actress, model, and dancer, whose father, Ernest Belcher was a famed ballet instructor.

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marge champion
Credit: D23

As per ComicBook.com’s report about Champion’s passing:

While her accolades were many, Champion is most recognizable to many as the real-life model for the titular princess in Walt Disney’s iconic 1937 film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Champion served as the movement model for Snow White, dancing for her scenes, in addition to helping inspire the look of the character.

Champion was a Disney Legend inducted in 2007. D23 features the following details about her life:

Marge Champion is something of a golden girl. Not only is she a veteran of the golden age of MGM musicals, but also the golden age of television—and the golden age of Disney Animation, including several of the greatest animated features of all time.

Marjorie Celeste Belcher was born on September 2, 1919, in Los Angeles. She began dancing as a child under the instruction of her father, Ernest Belcher, a noted Hollywood ballet coach who trained Shirley Temple, Cyd Charisse, and Gwen Verdon. Marge was a ballet teacher at her father’s studio by the time she was 12.

D23’s brief biography of Champion’s amazing life goes on to detail how a talent scout approached her about the “preposterous notion of auditioning for a cartoon” at her father’s dance studio. Ultimately, the then-teenage performer served as the model for not only Snow White, but Pinocchio’s (1940) Blue Fairy and Fantasia’s (1940) Hyacinth Hippo in the “Dance of the Hours” scene.

After marrying her husband, Gower Champion, she was involved in hit Golden Age of Hollywood musicals like Show Boat (1951), Lovely to Look At (1952), and Give a Girl a Break (1953). The Champions were said to be the silver screen’s best dance duo since the iconic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

The couple remained married for nearly 40 years, from 1947 until divorcing in 1973.

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Official New York Oscar Night Party
21 February 2007 – New York, New York – Marge Champion.  Photo Credit: Bill Lyons/AdMedia [Photo via Newscom]
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D23 also shared a memorial remembering Marge Champion’s life. They shared this quote from Jennifer Lee, chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios:

“Marge Champion brought all of her many talents to help bring iconic silver-screen women—from Snow White, to the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, to characters in Fantasia—to animated life. Walt Disney Animation Studios owes Marge, a Disney Legend and pioneer in animation, our deepest respect and gratitude.”

Their tribute also shared Champion’s own opinion of Mr. Walt Disney himself:

“The atmosphere was like a giant high school or college, as far as I was concerned. Mr. Disney, for me, was like a very friendly head principal. Now, that’s a 14-year-old’s point of view. I later on learned that he was probably one of the most important men, certainly in animation, and probably in the movie industry,” Champion recalled.

marge champion memorial
Credit: D23

Champion’s cause of death has not been released at this time. The ITM team sends well wishes to all those who knew and worked with Marge Champion throughout her illustrious Hollywood career.

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