Josephine Owaissa Cottle (April 5, 1922 – June 27, 2009) better known as Gale Storm, was an American actress and singer, who starred in two popular television programs of the 1950s, My Little Margie and The Gale Storm Show.
Born in Texas, given an American Indian middle name that means "Bluebird," Gale was only seventeen months old when her father William passed away. The family moved from Bloomington to McDade 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 indicate 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," became one of the most watchable sitcoms in the early 50s while showing up in syndicated reruns for decades. Co-starring thepopular 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" (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 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. She finally appeared again on TV in a "Love Boat" 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.
Storm continued to make personal appearances and autographed photos at fan conventions, along with Charles Farrell from the My Little Margie series. She also attended events such as the Memphis Film Festival, the Friends of Old-Time Radio and the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention.
Storm lived alone in Monarch Beach, California, near two of her sons and their families, until failing health forced her into a convalescent home, near San Francisco in Danville, California. She died there on June 27, 2009.
Storm has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to recording, radio, and television. (Info edited mainly from from IMDB)