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When Walt Disney Pictures looked for someone to inspire the movements of its animated Snow White in 1934, they found a 14-year-old dancer who became the model for the film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
Marge Champion's role in the making of the film will be part of an exhibition set to open June 8 at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.
Now 93, Champion was one of three young dancers selected. She splits her time between the Berkshires and New York City.
"They needed to see how a young girl moved, and how her dress moved around her, especially when dancing with the dwarves," Champion told The Berkshire Eagle. "I didn't know what I was doing. I was just doing an improvisation of whatever the animators showed me on the storyboards."
Released in 1937, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" adapted Champion's movements and dances into its animation.
"It had to be believable for an hour feature-length film to work," said Lella Smith, the creative director of the Walt Disney Animation Research Library and curator of the Snow White exhibition. "Marge was a beautiful and graceful young woman. They learned a lot from her movement."
Champion attended the premiere of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in Beverly Hills in 1937. But she had to watch from the balcony to keep her part in the film secret.
"They wanted (Snow White) to be an illusion," she said. "They didn't want anybody to get credit for the movement. The publicity department and Mr. Disney thought it would be dangerous to the movie."
Champion's involvement in the film became known years later through an article published in Life magazine.
This program aired on June 2, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.
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