Gower Carlyle Champion was an American actor, theatre director, choreographer, and dancer.
Champion was born in Geneva, Illinois, the son of John W. Champion and Beatrice Carlisle. He was raised in Los Angeles, California, where he graduated from Fairfax High School. He studied dance from an early age and, at the age of fifteen, toured nightclubs with friend Jeanne Tyler billed as “Gower and Jeanne, America’s Youngest Dance Team.” In 1939, “Gower and Jeanne” danced to the music of Larry Clinton and his Orchestra in a Warner Brothers & Vitaphone film short-subject, “The Dipsy Doodler”. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Champion worked on Broadway as a solo dancer and choreographer. After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, Champion met Marjorie Belcher, who became his new partner, and the two were married in 1947. Throughout the 1950s, they performed on a number of television variety shows, and in 1957 they starred in their own short-lived CBS sitcom, The Marge and Gower Champion Show, which was based on their actual career experiences. During this period, they also made several film musicals, including the 1951 remake of Show Boat, the autobiographical Everything I Have is Yours, Give a Girl a Break, and Three for the Show. In 1948, Champion had begun to direct as well, and he won the first of eight Tony Awards for his staging of Lend an Ear, the show that introduced Carol Channing to New York theater audiences. During the 1950s, he only worked on two Broadway musicals?choreographing Make a Wish in 1951 and directing, staging and starring in 3 For Tonight in 1955?preferring to spend most of his time in Hollywood. However, in the 1960s, he directed a number of Broadway hits that put him at the top of his profession.