(Image courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Josephine Owaissa Cottle
1922 - 2009
Texas born Gale Storm is probably best remembered as "Margie Albright", the daughter to Charles Farrell in the 1952 - 1955 TV comedy MY LITTLE MARGIE, which began as a summer replacement for I LOVE LUCY. After MARGIE, she starred in another sitcom, THE GALE STORM SHOW (aka OH SUSANNA) from 1956 - 1960. Both of these television series were produced by Hal Roach, Jr. Storm also did a radio version of MY LITTLE MARGIE. And in the 1950s, she signed with Dot Records, and her pop tune "I Hear You Knocking" was a hit on the 1955 Billboard charts.
In late 1939, the CBS radio show GATEWAY TO HOLLYWOOD ran a talent contest and the male and female winners received movie contracts and other perks. Josephine Cottle won and was assigned the screen name of "Gale Storm". The male award went to Lee Bonnell (who became "Terry Belmont"). Bonnell and Storm married in 1941. There's a bit more on that GATEWAY TO HOLLYWOOD radio talent contest at the bottom of this page.
Gale Storm's movie career began with a few roles at RKO and her film debut was in TOM BROWN'S SCHOOL DAYS (RKO, 1940), which starred Freddie Bartholomew and Jimmy Lydon (who would later become Paramount's Henry Aldrich).
B western fans may recall her appearances in four oaters in the early 1940s at Republic Pictures:
(From Old Corral image collection)
|From left to right are Sally Payne, Gale Storm and Roy Rogers in a lobby card from JESSE JAMES AT BAY (Republic, 1941). Storm and Payne were newspaper reporters in this one.|
This was Roy's final "historical western" before the changeover to a more modern and musical theme in his films.
Throughout the 1940s, Storm received lots of paychecks from Monogram/Allied Artists in films such as: LET'S GO COLLEGIATE (Monogram, 1941) with Frankie Darro, Marcia Mae Jones and Jackie Moran; REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES (Monogram, 1943) with John Carradine, Robert Lowery and Bob Steele; SMART ALECKS (Monogram, 1942) with the East Side Kids; and the western comedy THE DUDE GOES WEST (Allied Artists, 1948) with Eddie Albert. Several of her Monograms were musicals, and Gale would sing, tap dance, etc.
Circa 1949 - 1952, and with her film career in decline, she did occasional heroine portrayals in several westerns/outdoor adventures: STAMPEDE (Allied Artist, 1949) with Rod Cameron and Johnny Mack Brown; THE KID FROM TEXAS (Universal-International, 1950) which starred Audie Murphy; AL JENNINGS OF OKLAHOMA (Columbia, 1951) with Dan Duryea and Dick Foran; THE TEXAS RANGERS (Columbia, 1951) starring George Montgomery; and WOMAN OF THE NORTH COUNTRY (Republic, 1952) with Rod Cameron, John Agar and Jim Davis. And then came MY LITTLE MARGIE.
In her later life (after her TV series), Gale performed at dinner theater and summer stock. And in her autobiography I Ain't Down Yet (Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1981), she chronicled her struggles in overcoming alcoholism. Gale's 1941 marriage to Lee Bonnell was long and successful and the pairing produced three sons and a daughter. Bonnell had done some 1940s films, but switched careers and became an insurance exec. He passed away in 1986. In 1988, she married retired ABC executive Paul Masterson who passed in 1996.
Gale Storm, along with Noel Neill, Lois Hall and Elaine Riley, were presented with Golden Boot awards at the 2004 awards ceremony.
Gale Storm passed away on June 27, 2009 at age 87.
While Gale Storm did some westerns, I'll forever remember her as "Margie Albright".
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Gale Storm and her husband Lee Bonnell:
Gale Storm: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0832561/
Lee Bonnell (1918-1986) aka "Terry Belmont": http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0094866/
The official Gale Storm website is at: http://www.galestorm.tv/
You may also want to search for Gale Storm at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce / Walk Of Fame website at: http://www.walkoffame.com
There were several MY LITTLE MARGIE comic books from Charlton and you can view the covers at the Grand Comics Database Project (GCD) website: http://www.comics.org/search.lasso?type=title&query=my+little+margie&sort=alpha&Submit=Search
J. David Goldin's RadioGoldIndex website lists about fifty radio programs for Gale Storm (including some of her MY LITTLE MARGIE broadcasts on CBS radio). When you get to the site, click "Start Here", then select "Search By Artist", then select S, then scroll down for Gale Storm radio credits: http://radiogoldindex.com/
Want to learn how Josephine Cottle became Gale Storm and how she met her hubby Lee Bonnell? Pay particular attention to the description of the following radio program (I've quoted the first couple lines of the description below):
"50319. The Gateway To Hollywood. December 31, 1939. Program #13. CBS net. Sponsored by: Doublemint Gum. A fascinating concept as host Jesse L. Lasky, in his Brooklyn accent, admits to fabricating screen names. The purpose of the program is to audition six amateur performers to compete for a movie contract and to become the created names of "Gale Storm" and "Terry Belmont.""
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above - the heroine and heroes in a crop from a SADDLEMATES (Republic, 1941) lobby card --- from L-to-R are Bob Livingston, Rufe Davis (standing), Gale Storm, and Bob Steele.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from left to right in this title lobby card from SADDLEMATES (Republic, 1941) are Gale Storm, George Lynn (suit), Cornelius Keefe (cavalry uniform). At the desk is Forbes Murray and on the right are Robert/Bob Livingston, Bob Steele and Rufe Davis.