Marge Champion was a star dance performer during the Golden Age of Hollywood. She performed with her dance partner and husband Gower Champion. When her father, Ernest Belcher, heard from his personal friend Walt Disney that he needed a a model to base a character’s movement and appearance on then she was put forward.
Sadly she has now passed away at the magnificent age of 101.
The studio hired then teenaged Champion to allow them to realistically animate Snow White in the 1937 movie Snow White And The Seven Dwarves. For this, she received $10 a day on the days she was required on the sound stage. This lasted for two years.
The movie launched Disney’s animation empire and earned Walt Disney an honorary Oscar. It literally is the foundation that today’s organization is built on. When adjusted for inflation it still remains the highest grossing animated feature of all time.
Former Disney Imagineer Eddie Sotto was one of the first to pay tribute:
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
Hollywood royalty Bette Midler also regarded Champion as a friend:
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
Snow White was not the end of her Disney adventures. She served as a model for the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, Hyacinth Hippo in Fantasia and Mr. Stock in Dumbo. She also won an Emmy for her work as a choreographer for the 1975 TV movie Queen Of Stardust Ballroom. Her final acting credit was in an episode of the 1982 series Fame.