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Gale Storm Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (21)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (3)

Born in Bloomington, Texas, USA
Died in Danville, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameJosephine Owaissa Cottle

Mini Bio (1)

Born with the drab, unlikely name of Josephine Cottle on April 5, 1922, this pleasantly appealing, Texas-born, auburn-haired beauty was only seventeen months old when her father William passed away. The family moved from Bloomington (her home town) to McDade (between Austin and Houston) where her mother Minnie made ends meet as a seamstress and milliner. The youngest of five children, the family eventually settled in Houston where Gale took dance and ice skating lessons, developed a strong interest in acting and performed in high school dramatics. Encouraged by her teachers, Gale by chance entered and was chosen the winner of local radio talent contest called Jesse L. Lasky's "Gateway to Hollywood" in 1939. This took her and her mother to Hollywood where she captured the national contest title.

Handed the more exciting stage moniker of "Gale Storm", she was soon put under contract to RKO Pictures. Although she was dropped by the studio after only six months, she had established herself enough to find work elsewhere, including Monogram and Universal. Appearing in a number of "B" musicals, mysteries and westerns, her wholesome, open-faced prettiness made her a natural for filming. The programmers, however, that she co-starred in were hardly the talk of the town. Making her inauspicious debut with Tom Brown's School Days (1940), her 40s movies bore such dubious titles as Let's Go Collegiate (1941), Freckles Comes Home (1942), Revenge of the Zombies (1943), Sunbonnet Sue (1945), Swing Parade of 1946 (1946), and Curtain Call at Cactus Creek (1950), indicates the hardships of finding suitable worthy of her talent. Arguably, her better movies include the family Christmas tale It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947) which co-starred Don DeFore; the overlooked western comedy The Dude Goes West (1948) opposite Eddie Albert; and the film noir piece The Underworld Story (1950) with Dan Duryea.

After years of toiling in films, Gale finally turned things around at age 30 by transplanting herself to the small screen. Her very first TV series vehicle My Little Margie (1952), which was only suppose to be a summer replacement series for I Love Lucy (1951), became one of the most watchable sitcoms in the early 50s while showing up in syndicated reruns for decades. Co-starring the popular film star Charles Farrell as her amiable dad, Gale's warmth and ingratiating style suited TV to a tee, making her one of the most popular light comediennes of the time. She segued directly into her second hit series as a cruise ship director in The Gale Storm Show: Oh! Susanna (1956), which was better known as "Oh! Susannah" after it went into syndication. Co-starring woebegone Zasu Pitts as the ship's manicurist and her "Ethel Mertz" counterpart, this show lasted a season longer than her first.

In the midst of all this, the (gasp) thirty-something star dared to launch her own Las Vegas nightclub and pop recording careers. Always looking much younger than she was, she produced a number of Billboard chart makers including "I Hear You Knocking" (her first hit), "Memories Are Made of This", "Ivory Tower" and her own cover of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love". Her most successful song of the decade was "Dark Moon", which peaked at #4.

Gale's film career took a sharp decline following the demise of her second series in 1960. Most of her focus was placed modestly on the summer stock or dinner theater circuit, doing a revolving door of tailor-made comedies and musicals such as "Cactus Flower", "Forty Carats", "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and "South Pacific". She finally appeared again on TV in a The Love Boat (1977) segment in 1979 after nearly a two-decade absence. It was later revealed in Gale's candid autobiography "I Ain't Down Yet" (1981) and on the talk show circuit that the disappearance was triggered by a particularly vicious battle with alcohol. Years later, Gale became an outspoken and committed lecturer in helping to remove the stigma attached to such a disease, particularly as it applied to women.

Fully recovered, she has been widowed twice -- by actor Lee Bonnell in 1986 and Paul Masterson in 1996. Incredibly accommodating over the years, Gale has appear on the nostalgia and film festival circuits to the delight of her many fans.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Paul Curtis Masterson (23 April 1988 - 10 May 1996) ( his death)
Lee Bonnell (28 September 1941 - 12 May 1986) ( his death) ( 4 children)

Trivia (21)

Operation for shattered hip which resulted from fall [December 1995]
She is honored with three stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame: a Radio star at 6119 Hollywood Blvd., a Recording star at 1519 Vine St., and a TV star at 1680 Vine St.
Says she took up tap dancing in the 1970s to keep herself physically and mentally young.
She met late husband Lee Bonnell in Hollywood when he was deemed the male winner of the "Gates of Hollywood" radio talent contest that Gale won in the distaff category. The father of her four children, Lee later ran an insurance company out of Encino, California.
Daughter Susannah was named after Gale's successful TV show.
Gale was elected honorary mayor of Sherman Oaks, California in January of 1953. By coincidence, her "My Little Margie" co-star, Charles Farrell, was already fulfilling his third term as mayor of Palm Springs. Gale served for two terms and was succeeded by none other than Liberace.
All four of Gale's children appeared on either or both of her hit sitcoms.
Appearing in a number of musicals in the 1940s, she became an unexpected recording star in the mid-1950s. Ned Miller's "Dark Moon" topped the Billboard charts for Gale at #4 in 1957. Coincidentally, a competing version of the song by Bonnie Guitar peaked at #6. In 1995, an album of her mid-to-late 1950s recordings at the Dot music label was released and entitled "The Best of Gale Storm."
Born Josephine Owaissa Cottle, the youngest of five children, in Bloomington, a small town in the coastal bend area of Texas, her unusual middle name, "Owaissa" is an Indian word meaning "bluebird" and was given to her by an older sister, Lois.
Gale (born Josephine) was the baby sister to four other siblings: Lois (the oldest), Wilbur (second), Marjorie (third), and Brackston (fourth).
Gale signed a new recording contract with Dot Records in 1955, which immediately yielded a hit record in late September and early October: 'I Hear You Knocking.'
As TV's My Little Margie (1952), she voiced her famous " gurgling" sound whenever she faced a dilemma.
She was a lifelong Republican and solid supporter of Ronald Reagan.
Having won the Texas stage of the Gateway to Hollywood contest, she went to Hollywood for the final where she met Lee Bonnell, the winner of the Indiana stage. A year later they were married.
Performed at the 15th Annual Visit to the Golden Age of Radio at the Clemens Center in Elmira, New York. [April 2002]
Son Peter Wade Bonnell was born May 29, 1946, in Los Angeles County, California.
Son Phillip Lee Bonnell was born March 19, 1943, in Los Angeles County, California.
Son Paul William Bonnell was born August 1, 1947, in Los Angeles County, California.
Daughter Susanna Josephine "Susie" Bonnell was born November 12, 1956, in Los Angeles County, California.
Regarded her troubles with alcoholism publicly and candidly, and during the 70s was a spokesperson for Raleigh Hills rehabilitation clinic.

Personal Quotes (1)

My successes have certainly not been without problems. During the 1970s I experienced a terribly low and painful time of dealing with alcoholism...I thank God daily that I have been fully recovered for more than 20 years. During my struggle, I had no idea of the blessing my experience could turn out to be! I've had the opportunity to share with others suffering with alcoholism the knowledge that there is help, hope, and an alcohol free life awaiting them.

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