Here’s a little test to see how well your memory is functioning (and also how much of a geezer you are). Do you remember the star of a hit TV show called My Little Margie? I’ll give you a big hint — she later had another popular show called Oh! Susannah, a sort of predecessor to The Love Boat. (Ironically she made a guest appearance in that show many years later.)
Gale Storm might sound like a perfect name for a TV weather girl, but it’s a name that remains familiar to many fans of early TV sitcoms, even after all these years. It’s a fascinating story that all started when Josephine Owaissa Cottle left her native Texas and a difficult childhood behind, traveling to California to compete in what was a popular pre-war activity — a talent contest.
Those contests were one of the ways that aspiring stars tried to get discovered, and were very similar to present-day competitions such as American Idol. Josephine won and was awarded a film contract, and at the same time changed her name to Gale Storm. (She also met the male winner, Lee Bonnell, and their eventual marriage lasted until his death 45 years later.)
Gale appeared in a lot of movies and worked her way up to bigger parts in the time-honored way, and continued to appear steadily through the war years and for the rest of the decade. Her film career was solidly established by then and she turned to something new.
As the 1950’s arrived, she was offered the lead in a new TV series that was being put together as a summer replacement for I Love Lucy. The show – My Little Margie – debuted in 1952 and featured her as the daughter of a businessman played by veteran actor Charles Farrell. It was a sitcom with a simple premise – mostly just Margie saving her dad from himself – but it struck pay dirt and was a hit for several years.
Whatever was going on with her acting, Gale kept singing – after all, her musical talent helped get her started – and in the 1950’s she had several successful records. Her top hits were “I Hear You Knocking” and “Never Leave Me”, but she also had solid sellers with “Memories Are Made of This”, “Ivory Tower”, “Dark Moon”, and several others.
As mentioned earlier, she followed the success of My Little Margie with her later TV show, and for many years after that continued to perform in many different areas, including TV guest shots and stage shows. Never a huge star, she nevertheless forged a significant career in movies, TV, and music, a distinction that many of her contemporaries didn’t reach. She’s still around today and even has her own website — visit it for a very enjoyable trip down Nostalgia Lane.
Gale Storm – “Dark Moon”