Marge Champion

Dancer / Choreographer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her five-hour Archive interview, Marge Champion talks about her early years growing up as the daughter of a choreographer in Hollywood. She describes working for Walt Disney as the motion model for "Snow White." She recounts moving to New York in 1939 to make it on Broadway and her marriage to long time collaborator Gower Champion. She recalls developing her act with Gower Champion and appearing on an early television test. Champion discusses several television appearances she and Gower made in the '50s, including Admiral Broadway Revue, Your Show of Shows, and The Ed Sullivan Show. She outlines touring the Soviet Union with Sullivan, and later starring in her own series The Marge and Gower Champion Show. She speaks of several late '50s and early '60s television appearances including The Bell Telephone Hour, The Dinah Shore Show and The Perry Como Show. She details retiring from performing and her subsequent split with Gower Champion, as well as her career as a choreographer. She talks about choreographing Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, for which she received an Emmy Award. Sunny Parich conducted the interview on October 30, 1998 in Stockbridge, MA.

"I never remember a time when I wasn't dancing. I had my first tutu before I was a year old because I have a picture in that. I don't think I started any serious training until I was about five or six."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Marge Champion on her first appearance on television
Marge Champion on her relationship with Gower Champion as a dancer
Marge Champion on The Marge and Gower Champion Show
Marge Champion on choreographing Queen of the Stardust Ballroom  for which she won an Emmy
Marge Champion on how she'd like to be remembered and her influence 
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early life and influences; on her early interest in dance and being trained by her father
On deciding she wanted to be a dancer; on teaching dance in her early years and her early dance performances; on her father's dance class students
On living though the Great Depression; on meeting Gower Champion 

Chapter 2

On meeting Gower Champion; on working for Disney and modeling for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"
On attending Hollywood High; on the "racy" elements of Hollywood; on her first marriage and touring with The Three Stooges; on her early dancing jobs after graduating high school

Chapter 3

On her early appearances in movies; on moving to New York City in 1939; on taking acting lessons in New York City and breaking into Broadway
On her experiences during World War II; on reuniting with Gower Champion after World War II; on her relationship with Gower Champion as a dancer

Chapter 4

On her chemistry with Gower Champion and their rehearsal process; on the process of creating a dance number; on her and Gower Champion's act
On choreographing Queen of the Stardust Ballroom;  on developing her act with Gower Champion and their first time on television 

Chapter 5

On her first appearance on television; on her and Gower Champion's getting hired for Admiral Broadway Revue;  on Gower Champion's choreography for the television camera
On the rehearsals for Your Show of Shows;  on the feeling right before going on "live" TV for Your Show of Shows;  on the logistics of shooting her and Gower Champion dancing for television
On her father seeing her on television and performing on live television; on how audiences had changed since she started on television 

Chapter 6

On mishaps on live television and appearing on Person to Person;  on leaving Admiral Broadway Revue and going on the road with Gower Champion; on appearing in the feature "Showboat" and other features and working for Howard Hughes
On appearing in various features with Gower Champion; on Gower Champion experimenting with choreography on film; on appearing in cinemascope features and appearing in the feature "Three for the Show"

Chapter 7

On The Marge and Gower Champion Show; on the writers, characters and guest stars of The Marge and Gower Champion Show
On working on The Dinah Shore Show and various other television shows in the late '50s; on how performers have changed since she started in the business; on her favorite medium to work in as a performer

Chapter 8

On appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show  with Gower Champion and touring the Soviet Union with Ed Sullivan
On creating material specifically for television and the public's reaction to her television appearances; on dancing with Gower Champion on The Perry Como Show; on her and Gower Champion's final television appearance on The Bell Telephone Hour

Chapter 9

On how the medium of television changed during her active years; on the Hollywood Blacklist; on being named Woman of the Year by the "Los Angeles Times" in 1969
On assisting Gower Champion in his choreography and her directing career; on the social upheaval of the 1960s and her split with Gower Champion; on her various activities after her split with Gower Champion including choreographing Queen of the Stardust Ballroom
On retiring from dancing and doing straight acting; on advice to aspiring dancers; on losing her dress in front of the Queen of England

Chapter 10

On career highlights and regrets and working with Harry Belafonte; on the then-future of television 
On various people with whom she has worked in her career
On her father's legacy; on the legacy of Gower Champion; on how she'd like to be remembered and her influence 
Shows

Admiral Broadway Revue

View Show Page
Marge Champion on her and Gower Champion getting hired for Admiral Broadway Revue
Marge Champion on Gower Champion's choreography for the television camera
Marge Champion on leaving Admiral Broadway Revue and going on the road with Gower Champion 

Bell Telephone Hour, The

View Show Page
Marge Champion on her and Gower Champion's final television appearance on The Bell Telephone Hour

Dinah Shore Show, The

View Show Page
Marge Champion on working on The Dinah Shore Show  and various other television shows in the late '50s

Ed Sullivan Show, The aka Toast of the Town

View Show Page
Marge Champion on appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show  with Gower Champion and touring the Soviet Union with Ed Sullivan

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

View Show Page
Marge Champion on choreographing Queen of the Stardust Ballroom  for which she won an Emmy

Marge and Gower Champion Show, The

View Show Page
Marge Champion on The Marge and Gower Champion Show
Marge Champion on the writers, characters and guest stars of The Marge and Gower Champion Show

Perry Como Show, The

View Show Page
Marge Champion on dancing with Gower Champion on The Perry Como Show

Person to Person

View Show Page
Marge Champion on mishaps on live television and appearing on Person to Person

Your Show of Shows

View Show Page
Marge Champion on Gower Champion's choreography for the television camera
Marge Champion on the rehearsals for Your Show of Shows  (which she appeared on with Gower Champion)
Marge Champion on the feeling right before going on "live" TV for Your Show of Shows  (which she appeared on with Gower Champion)
Topics

Advice

View Topic
Marge Champion on advice to aspiring dancers

Bloopers

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Marge Champion on mishaps on live television and appearing on Person to Person
Marge Champion on losing her dress in front of the Queen of England 

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Marge Champion on choreographing Queen of the Stardust Ballroom  for which she won an Emmy

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Marge Champion on her experiences during World War II

Hollywood Blacklist

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Marge Champion on the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Marge Champion on the Hollywood Blacklist

Television Industry

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Marge Champion on how audiences had changed since she started on television 
Marge Champion on how performers have changed since she started in the business 
Marge Champion on how the medium of television changed during her active years
Marge Champion on the Hollywood Blacklist
Marge Champion on advice to aspiring dancers
Marge Champion on the then-future of television 

World War II

View Topic
Marge Champion on her experiences during World War II
Professions

Dancer/Choreographer

View Profession
Marge Champion on her chemistry with Gower Champion and her rehearsal process 
Marge Champion on the process of creating a dance number
Marge Champion on developing her act with Gower Champion and their first time on television 
Marge Champion on the logistics of shooting her and Gower Champion dancing for television
Marge Champion on advice to aspiring dancers

Performers

View Profession
Marge Champion on her chemistry with Gower Champion and her rehearsal process 
Marge Champion on the process of creating a dance number
Marge Champion on developing her act with Gower Champion and their first time on television 
Marge Champion on the logistics of shooting her and Gower Champion dancing for television
Marge Champion on advice to aspiring dancers
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Marge Champion on The Marge and Gower Champion Show

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Marge Champion on dancing on Admiral Broadway Revue
Marge Champion on dancing on Your Show of Shows
Marge Champion on leaving Admiral Broadway Revue  and going on the road with Gower Champion 
Marge Champion on working on The Dinah Shore Show  and various other television shows in the late '50s
Marge Champion on appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show  with Gower Champion and touring the Soviet Union with Ed Sullivan
Marge Champion on dancing with Gower Champion on The Perry Como Show
Marge Champion on her and Gower Champion's final television appearance on The Bell Telephone Hour

News and Documentary

View Genre
Marge Champion on mishaps on live television and appearing on Person to Person

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Marge Champion on choreographing Queen of the Stardust Ballroom
Marge Champion on her various activities after her split with Gower Champion including choreographing Queen of the Stardust Ballroom
People

June Allyson

View Person Page
Marge Champion on June Allyson 

Harry Belafonte

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Marge Champion on career highlights and regrets and working with Harry Belafonte 

Gower Champion

View Person Page
Marge Champion on meeting Gower Champion 
Marge Champion on meeting Gower Champion 
Marge Champion on reuniting with Gower Champion after World War II
Marge Champion on her relationship with Gower Champion as a dancer
Marge Champion on her chemistry with Gower Champion and their rehearsal process 
Marge Champion on her and Gower Champion's act
Marge Champion on her and Gower Champion getting hired for Admiral Broadway Revue
Marge Champion on Gower Champion's choreography for the television camera
Marge Champion on the rehearsals for Your Show of Shows  (which she appeared on with Gower Champion)
Marge Champion on the feeling right before going on "live" TV for Your Show of Shows  (which she appeared on with Gower Champion)
Marge Champion on Gower Champion's choreography for the television camera
Marge Champion on appearing in various features with Gower Champion 
Marge Champion on Gower Champion experimenting with choreography on film
Marge Champion on appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show  with Gower Champion and touring the Soviet Union with Ed Sullivan
Marge Champion on dancing with Gower Champion on The Perry Como Show
Marge Champion on her and Gower Champion's final television appearance on The Bell Telephone Hour
Marge Champion on assisting Gower Champion in his choreography and her directing career
Marge Champion on the social upheaval of the 1960s and her split with Gower Champion
Marge Champion on the legacy of Gower Champion 

Cyd Charisse

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Marge Champion on Cyd Charisse 

Tony Charmoli

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Marge Champion on Tony Charmoli 

Perry Como

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Marge Champion on dancing with Gower Champion on The Perry Como Show

Walt Disney

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Marge Champion on Walt Disney

Nanette Fabray

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Marge Champion on Nanette Fabray 

Bob Fosse

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Marge Champion on Bob Fosse

Max Liebman

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Marge Champion on Max Liebman

Dinah Shore

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Marge Champion on working on The Dinah Shore Show  and various other television shows in the late '50s

Ed Sullivan

View Person Page
Marge Champion on appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show  with Gower Champion and touring the Soviet Union with Ed Sullivan

Gwen Verdon

View Person Page
Marge Champion on Gwen Verdon

All Interviews

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