Gale Storm, perhaps best remembered for her television series My Little Margie in the early '50s, didn't have an easy time growing up in Texas. When her luck changed, however, it changed in a big way. Through a series of lucky breaks, she won a movie contract, landed a husband, and started a singing career, in that order.
Storm, whose real name is Josephine Owaissa Cottle, was born in 1922 in Bloomington, TX. Her father passed away before her first birthday and left her mother as sole support of five children. Their home lacked modern conveniences like indoor plumbing. They made do with an outhouse and laundered their clothes with homemade soap. By the time Storm entered junior high school in Houston, there still wasn't enough money for extras like girls' clubs, including the Girl Scouts. Storm turned instead to the school's free drama club.
In high school, a pair of her teachers encouraged her to participate in a popular contest of the day, Gateway to Hollywood. Held in Hollywood during the late '30s, the competition offered an opportunity for two winners to walk away with a movie contract. Storm was one of those winners and a young man was the other. The two contestants ended up marrying each other, and Storm had her foot in the door at RKO and Universal. She went on to make such films as Between Midnight and Dawn, Woman of the North Country, It Happened on Fifth Avenue, and Foreign Agent, among others.
After Storm triumphed in the talent contest and won her trip to Hollywood, luck didn't desert her. When she appeared on the Comedy Hour Show, where she sang a popular number, her performance was caught by a little girl watching television in Gallatin, TN. From the next room, the child's father also heard the performance and asked who was on the broadcast. The child told him that the stunning singer was "My Little Margie." The girl's father, Randy Wood, was excited enough by her voice that he placed a telephone call then and there, while Storm was still on television. He wanted to sign her to his company, Dot Records.
Storm began to record for Dot. In 1955, her rendition of "I Hear You Knocking," originally by Smiley Lewis, landed in the Top Five on the charts. Other 1955 releases include "Memories Are Made of This" and "Teen Age Prayer," followed in 1956 by "Ivory Tower" and "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" and the following year, "Dark Moon." She also recorded "My Happiness" and "Now Is the Hour," and issued a few albums.
During the late '50s she starred in The Gale Storm Show on television. Later in life, Storm appeared in regional theater productions near her San Fernando Valley home. With actresses Sheree North and Betty Garrett in 1987, she co-starred in a production of Breaking Up the Act. In 1981 she wrote I Ain't Down Yet: The Autobiography of My Little Margie. ~ Linda Seida