Here’s What Happened to Gale Storm Before, During and After Her Classic TV Show ‘My Little Margie’

The power of television became apparent to actress Gale Storm shortly after the 1952 debut of her Classic TV sitcom, My Little Margie. Prior to that, she had appeared in no less than 35 movies, but her show — designed to be a summer replacement series for I Love Lucy, but destined to become much more — allowed her to connect with viewers in a way she hadn’t before.

“I’ve done dozens of motion pictures and still I didn’t cause much of a stir when I appeared in public,” she mused to The Valley Times of Hollywood in 1952. “Most of the time, I wasn’t recognized at all, but it’s different now. In Ohrbach’s the other day, I almost didn’t get out of the store after some youngsters pointed me out and in loud voices said, ‘There’s Margie, Mother! Look!’ Another little boy paid me a real compliment. He said, ‘You’re a very good comedian — for a woman.’” Putting that particular sort of sexism aside, the kid’s observation was correct: she was a very good comedian, and it was a moment that crystallized the journey she had been on up until that point.

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Courtesy David C. Tucker

She was born Josephine Owaissa Cottle on April 5, 1922, in Victoria County’s Bloomington in South Texas, the youngest of five children (with two brothers and two sisters awaiting her arrival). Her father, William Walter Cottle, died from an illness he battled for about a year when the destined-to-be Gale was just 17 months old. Her mother, Minnie Corina Cottle, did her best to raise the five kids on her own.

“My mother cuddled me more than the others, I have no doubt,” Gale related to the Los Angeles Times in 1946. “But she didn’t have much time for cuddling, because my father died when I was so young and she had to look out for the five of us. She sewed to earn money for our upbringing and often had to work far into the night.”

The family moved to Houston, where Gale studied and became a successful dancer and ice skater. She also performed in the drama club of Albert Sidney Johnston Junior High School and San Jacinto High School. David C. Tucker, author of Gale Storm: A Biography and Career Record, points out, “She enjoyed performing in school shows, amateur shows and that sort of thing when she was young, but she said that she had no sense that a career in that field was something people could realistically aspire to. At the same time, she had two teachers who recognized that she was very talented and encouraged her to enter the Gateway to Hollywood contest,” which would change everything for her.

For much more on Gale Storm, followed by a quick look at her movies, please scroll down.