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Marge Champion, actress, dancer and reference model for Snow White, dies at 101: reports

Champion was the artists' inspiration for beloved characters in classic Disney movies such as 'Pinocchio,' 'Dumbo,' and 'Fantasia.'
Credit: AP
Marge Champion arrives at the 40th anniversary restoration premiere of Cabaret, Thursday, April 12, 2012, at Grauman's Chinese Theater, in Los Angeles. The world premiere of the 40th anniversary restoration of Cabaret is presented as the opening night gala of the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival.(AP Photo/Katy Winn)

Perhaps you don't recognize her name, but her movements will forever live on screen in some of your beloved classic Disney films. 

Marge Champion, Disney Legend, actress, dancer and live-action reference model for Disney, has died, according to The New York Times. She was 101. 

Her most iconic role came as the inspiration for Disney animators for Snow White in Disney's first feature-length animated film, 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," D23 reported. D23 said she was also the inspiration for characters such as the Blue Fairy in "Pinocchio" and Hyacinth the Hippo from "Dance of the Hours" in "Fantasia," the choreography for which she helped create. She even modeled for Mr. Stork in "Dumbo" and Dopey from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." 

“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,” Jennifer Lee, chief creative officer, Walt Disney Animation Studios, told D23. “Walt Disney Animation Studios owes Marge, a Disney Legend and pioneer in animation, our deepest respect and gratitude.” 

The Hollywood Reporter says Champion was also known in several MGM musicals with her first husband and dance partner Gower Champion, such as 1951's remake of "Show Boat."

Reports say Champion was born Sept. 2, 1919 in California and is the daughter of renowned Hollywood dance and ballet teacher Ernest Belcher, who happened to be a friend of Walt Disney. 

She was honored as a Disney Legend in 2007, D23 says.

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