Marge Champion, Dancer, Actor and Choreographer, Dies at 101
The Champions radiated the vitality of younger America, wanting even in center age like a few fresh-scrubbed youngsters. They have been terribly good-looking — she a petite brunette with the blushing cheeks and honest brown eyes of the lady subsequent door; he a tall, slender letterman with a crew reduce and a dreamboat face. They have been in fixed movement, swirling, dipping, leaping. John Crosby of The New York Herald Tribune referred to as them “mild as bubbles, wildly imaginative in choreography and infinitely meticulous in execution.”
They appeared on dozens of tv exhibits, from the range entertainments of Ed Sullivan and Dinah Shore to “The Bell Phone Hour” and “Common Electrical Theater.” In 1957 they’d their very own sitcom, “The Marge and Gower Champion Present,” by which they performed fictionalized variations of themselves. However their skilled partnership resulted in 1960, and their careers went separate methods. After years of rising aside, the couple, who had two sons, Blake and Gregg, have been divorced in 1973.
He turned an award-winning Broadway director, with hits that included “Bye Bye Birdie” (1960) and “Good day, Dolly!” (1964). She took small roles in lots of movies and in 1975 gained an Emmy for choreographing the TV film “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom,” a comedy starring Charles Durning and Maureen Stapleton. In 1981 she choreographed a nude dancer within the movie “Whose Life Is It Anyway?” Anna Kisselgoff of Gadget Clock referred to as it “a surprising sequence, created by somebody with a deep understanding of how dance and movie can mutually improve one another.”
Marjorie Celeste Belcher was born on Sept. 2, 1919, in Los Angeles, to Ernest and Gladys Belcher. Her father was a celebrated dance coach whose pupils included Shirley Temple, Betty Grable, Cyd Charisse — and Gower Champion.
Marjorie, who started dance classes at 3, attended Bancroft Junior Excessive in Los Angeles and Hollywood Excessive College. She knew Gower from Bancroft and from her father’s studio. In 1937 she married Arthur Babbitt, a Walt Disney animator who created the character Goofy and labored along with her in drawing Snow White and later characters for “Fantasia.” They have been divorced in 1940.
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