Josephine Owaissa Cottle – better known as Gale Storm - passed away a couple of weeks ago, on June 27th, 2009. She was 87.
While here career peaked in the 1950’s, and she appeared on television very little after the mid-1960s, she is still warmly remembered today by a generation that grew up on her two television shows.
My Little Margie and The Gale Storm Show (Oh, Susanna!)
Both shows have seen relatively little syndication in the past 30 years, and so today’s generation probably have no idea who Gale Storm was.
She was one of a number of hopefuls who vied for a screen test on Jesse L. Lasky’s radio show `Gateway To Hollywood’. Auditions were held all around the country, and Gale Storm won in Houston, traveled to Hollywood, and won there, too.
She ended up with a contract with RKO studios, and a new name (Sometimes billed as Gail Storm). After six months, they dropped her. But by then she’d appeared in several films and managed to pick up work at Universal and Monogram pictures in `B’ musicals, westerns, and dramas.
Her early career was hardly spectacular.
Her fresh-scrubbed girl-next-door looks were a natural for westerns and college musicals. More serious roles were hard to find, although she did acquit herself quite well in It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947) film noir piece The Underworld Story (1950).
We’ve a couple of her `lesser’ early movies available on the Internet Archive.
The first is called City of Missing Girls, a post-code story of `white slavery’ that tries very hard not to mention that fact. And Smart Alecks – a `Dead End Kids’ movie. Both are enjoyable enough if you are in the right mood.
We’ve also a strange amalgam of a commercial/travelogue from 1954 showing Gale Storm and Family on a trip in their new Chevrolet to the Grand Canyon. Nostalgic, if nothing else.
How to Go Places - Handy (Jam) Organization
Actress Gale Storm and family take a road trip in their Chevrolet and review the do's and don'ts of auto traveling.
It wasn’t until the early 1950’s when Storm would finally hit it `big’, and that was on the small screen. In 1952, when I Love Lucy went off for the summer, CBS needed a replacement show, and so they cobbled together a light comedy called `My Little Margie’, starring Gale Storm and silent movie star Charles Farrell.
It was a surprise hit, and the sponsor Phillip Morris, moved it to NBC for a regular fall slot on Saturday evenings. It lasted a couple of months, then returned to CBS in January . . .where it ran for 6 months.
After a 2 month hiatus, it ended up back on NBC, with a new sponsor, and ran till 1955. In the 1950s, sponsors owned the shows, and so it wasn’t unusual for a show to appear on more than one network over the years.
While the title, My Little Margie may sound condescending towards women, Margie was actually ahead of her time. In an era when most women on television were either married, to desperate to find a husband, Margie was single and pretty content to be that way.
The show was typical of the sitcoms of that era in that the subject matter was always `light’, and it relied heavily on Slap Stick comedy (It was produced by Hal Roach Studios).
But for light fare, it was better than most of the offerings of the day.
From 1956 to 1960, Storm would star in a second highly successful sitcom- the Gale Storm Show. After that, her television appearance dwindled.
She appeared twice on Burkes Law in the mid 1960s, once on the Love Boat (1979) and one on Murder She Wrote (1989).
But she didn’t give up show business. She appeared in dinner theatre and summer stock productions for many years, usually in "Cactus Flower," "Forty Carats," "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and "South Pacific.
Storm would also show up at nostalgia conventions, from time to time, much to the delight of her fans.
Perhaps not the most enduring show business legend, but for a few of us, Gale Storm is very fondly remembered.