Marjorie Celeste Champion was a dancer and actress from America. She was employed at 14 as a dance model for animated films at Walt Disney Studios. She was born on September 2, 1919, in Los Angeles, California, U.S. She later appeared in film musicals as an actress and dancer and had a television show based on song and dance in 1957.
For the 1978TV miniseries, The Awakening Nation, set in the Ohio Valley in the late 18th century, she also did innovative choreography for liturgy and acted as a dialogue and movement coach.
She was 101 years old.
With Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the very first picture Belcher recalls being in was The Castles. This made her feel like she’d really like to make movies, but what she really wanted to do was go to New York and go to shows in New York. Unfortunately, even for ballet, Belcher wasn’t tall enough, which is what she had practiced all her life for.
Champion, actress Marilee Zdenek, and choreographer John West were part of a team at Bel Aire Presbyterian Church in the 1970s which produced a number of dance and music creative worship services. Throughout the nation, they later offered workshops and related liturgical arts programs. She and Zdenek co-authored two books related to this work, Catch the New Wind and God Is a Verb.
In 1978, she acted as a dialogue and movement coach for The Awakening Land, a TV miniseries adapted from the trilogy of the same name by Conrad Richter. It was set in the valley of Ohio in the late 18th-century.
In New York City, Champion also served as a dance teacher and choreographer. In 1982, on the dramatic TV show Fame, she made a rare television acting debut, portraying a ballet teacher with a racist prejudice toward African-American students.
Marge Belcher married Art Babbitt (1907–1992), a top Disney animator and Goofy producer, in 1937. In 1940, they divorced.
She married Gower Champion (1919-1980), a dancer, in 1947. They had two sons, Blake and Champion Gregg, an actor. In January 1973, they divorced. In ninth grade at Bancroft Junior High, Belcher met Gower when she was 12 years old, and that’s when their relationship began. While performances sometimes took them away from California, Los Angeles remained their home base.
She married Boris Sagal, the director, in 1977. On May 22, 1981, in an accident during the making of the World War III miniseries, Sagal was killed. She became a stepmother to the five children of Boris, including Katey, Jean, Liz, and Joey.
In September of 2019, the champion turned 100. One year later, she died at her son’s home in Los Angeles on October 21, 2020. She was 101.
Marge Champion’s passing at 101 comes the same month as another great MGM dancer, Tommy Rall, who passed on at 90. I’ll have a tribute to Marge up at my blog in the next day or two. pic.twitter.com/7sGvzeoTXM