Hollywood dance duo named sons after playwright and film director

American dancers Gower and Marge Champion
Gower and Marge Champion

In the 1950s, Marge and Gower Champion were a famous husband-and-wife dance team. They appeared in a string of musical films (including Show Boat, Give a Girl a Break, and Three for the Show) and performed on a number of TV variety shows. The pair even had their own sitcom, The Marge and Gower Champion Show, during the summer of 1957.

The couple had two sons. The first, born in late 1956, was named Gregg Ernest.

His first name honored the couple’s friend Jess Gregg, an author and playwright.

His middle name honored Marge’s father, Hollywood dance teacher Ernest Belcher, whose students included Shirley Temple, Cyd Charisse, Ramon Navarro, Nanette Fabray, and Fay Wray.

(Belcher had founded the Celeste School of Dance in Los Angeles in 1916. Three years later, he and his wife welcomed a baby girl named Marjorie Celeste, or “Marge,” whose middle name may have come from the name of the school…)

The Champions’ second son, born in the early ’60s, was named Blake Gower.

His first name honored film director and family friend Blake Edwards, while his middle name was (of course) passed down from his father.

P.S. Did you know that Marge Champion (née Belcher) was hired by the Walt Disney Studio as a teenager to be the real-life model for the heroine of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the company’s first feature film? Today, Marge is a Disney Legend.


Image: Marge and Gower Champion 1957

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