Today, Gale Storm is a little-known talent of midcentury Hollywood. But in 1954, her career was booming, with Modern Screen calling her “the hottest star since the California fire.” The magazine’s February 1954 issue offers a profile of Gale.
Home life and personality
In some ways, this article is very much a product of its time. Storm’s life as a wife and mother is highlighted through the feature’s photos and quotes, and she’s praised for “jump[ing] to this popularity without emphasis on sex or night club publicity.” The writer thinks it’s “remarkable” that Gale doesn’t like to gamble and used to teach Sunday school.
She brings her children (three sons) to the studio so she can spend as much quality time with them as possible throughout the day. She doesn’t care about being a star and, instead, acts because she enjoys it. She knits gifts for the electricians who work long hours at the studio. When she’s not knitting, acting or spending time with her children, she likes to paint. She lets her husband balance the checkbook because she isn’t good at math. In short, she’s the portrait of midcentury femininity.
To emphasize what a hard-working and respectable woman she is, the profile of Storm includes a description of her daily routine, which is as follows:
6:30 am – Wake and do a few light exercises
6:40 am – Get a few more minutes of shut-eye
7:00 am – Head down to the table and eat “a steeplejack’s breakfast” to prepare for a “strenuous” day
…and after breakfast, make the 35-minute drive to the studio where Margie is shot.
The article is quick to point out Hollywood’s own stupidity in terms of noticing Gale’s talent. It took a role on TV’s My Little Margie for anyone in the film world to take notice of the actress… or so Modern Screen claims.
In reality, Gale got her start in Hollywood in 1940, appearing in a slew of minor-but-fun flicks, mostly musicals, throughout that decade. (The writer mentions these roles further into the profile but degrades them for being “B” pictures.) This is how I became a fan of Storm: quite a few of her ’40s films now appear in Mill Creek’s movie multipacks.
Musicals weren’t the only genre she explored, either. She even appeared in the now-classic Christmas flick It Happened on 5th Avenue.
Still, with the success of Margie, her popularity certainly did grow. Modern Screen was sure she has a grand career ahead of her at the time this article was published.
They may have jinxed her. After My Little Margie ended, Gale continued working in television, including on her own The Gale Storm Show: Oh, Susanna! which ran until 1960. But after that series ended she only had a handful of television guest-starring roles. In her later years, Gale worked in theater, wrote an autobiography and began lecturing about her experience of battling alcoholism, according to IMDb. On the biography page of her website, galestorm.tv, Gale wrote:
“My successes have certainly not been without problems. During the 1970’s I experienced a terribly low and painful time of dealing with alcoholism. I had Lee’s unfailing support through the entire ordeal. My treatment and recovery were more than rugged. At that time, there was such a stigma attached to alcoholism, particularly for women, that it could be hazardous to your reputation and career. I thank God daily that I have been fully recovered for more than 20 years. During my struggle, I had no idea of the blessing my experience could turn out to be! I’ve had the opportunity to share with others suffering with alcoholism the knowledge that there is help, hope, and an alcohol free life awaiting them.”
Gale Storm passed away in 2009, and while she certainly left a legacy of wonderful films, television and music behind her, she can also be remembered for the strength with which she handled the problems she faced, and the way that she was able to use those experiences to help others.