Gale Storm was born Josephine Cottle in Bloomington, Texas on April 5, 1922 (age 92). In 1939, while still a high school student, she won a “Gateway To Hollywood” talent contest that led to roles in 37 movies between 1940 and 1952. It also led to marriage -- to the male winner of that very same contest, Lee Bonnell. Gale Storm’s pert and peppy personality was best showcased in her two hit sitcoms of the 1950s: My Little Margie (1952-5) and The Gale Storm Show (a/k/a Oh Susanna!) (1956-60).
Between those two series, Gale hosted The NBC Comedy Hour and appeared on other programs -- including one watched in the home of Dot Records owner Randy Wood. “His daughter Linda, who was about 12, saw me guesting on Gordon MacRae’s television show,” Gale wrote in her autobiography. “She called her dad in to see ‘My Little Margie’ singing on TV.” Wood phoned Storm, kicking off her recording career.
“Mostly I just covered records that were hits or looked like they were going to be,” Gale recalled. “My first hit record was ‘I Hear You Knockin’. It was her 1955 million-selling cover of a then-current R&B hit by Smiley Lewis. Storm later covered Dean Martin’s “Memories Are Made Of This,” Gloria Mann’s “Teen-Age Prayer,” The Teenagers’ “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” and The Charms’ “Ivory Tower.”
In the studio, Storm simply followed the dictates of Randy Wood and the leader of Dot’s house band, Billy Vaughn. “When I did ‘Dark Moon’ [in 1957] I did protest,” Gale wrote. “Bonnie Guitar has not only written it and recorded it but I liked her record.” What made the whole thing surprising was the fact that Bonnie’s hit was then on the charts -- on the Dot label! “I refused to do it unless she gave me permission herself,” said Storm. “By golly, they brought her to the studio and she did give it to me.” Gale’s record climbed to #4, while Bonnie’s peaked at #6.
“I only recorded for 18 months,” wrote Storm. “I loved everything about the business -- learning new songs, developing a style, going into the studio, working with backup singers and an orchestra… It was an enormously exciting experience that sends shivers down my spine when I think about it.”
With her TV run ending in 1960 Gale Storm turned to dinner theatre.
She is honored with three stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame -- one for radio, one for TV and one for recording.
Gale Storm is a 2008 nominee at the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.