Gale Storm dies at 87; star of 1950s sitcoms The actress came to Hollywood as a finalist in a national talent contest, then appeared in numerous movies before starring on TV in the popular 'My Little Margie' and 'The Gale Storm Show.' By Dennis McLellan Los Angeles Times June 29, 2009
Gale Storm, who shot to the top on television as the vivacious star of two popular 1950s situation comedies, "My Little Margie" and "The Gale Storm Show: Oh! Susanna," has died. She was 87.
Storm, who also had a successful recording career during her TV heyday, died Saturday of natural causes at a convalescent hospital in the Northern California community of Danville, according to her son Peter Bonnell.
A summer replacement for "I Love Lucy," "My Little Margie" ran from 1952 to 1955, with Storm starring as the plucky young Margie Albright and Charles Farrell as her widower father, Vern. Although critics generally panned "My Little Margie" as a lightweight farce, the public fell in love with the mischievous Margie. A 1953 poll of the most popular TV stars listed Storm at No. 2, behind TV comedy queen Lucille Ball. In an unusual move, the series was broadcast on CBS Radio from December 1952 to August 1955 with the same lead actors. Only 23 episodes of the radio show are known to survive
After "My Little Margie" ended, Storm starred in "The Gale Storm Show: Oh! Susanna," in which she played social director Susanna Pomeroy aboard the luxury liner the SS Ocean Queen. The situation comedy, featuring Zasu Pitts as the ship's flighty beautician Elvira "Nugey" Nugent and Roy Roberts as Capt. Huxley, ran from 1956 to 1960.
Storm was a pert and pretty 17-year-old Houston, Texas, high school senior named Josephine Cottle when she arrived in Hollywood in late 1939 as a finalist in the nationwide "Gateway to Hollywood" talent contest.
Born on April 5, 1922, in Bloomington, Texas, (birth name: Josephine Owaissa Cottle) the auburn-haired Storm had played the leads in numerous plays and musicals in school, but two of her teachers had to push her to enter the "Gateway" competition.
The winning actor and actress were promised contracts with RKO Studios and guaranteed a role in a major motion picture. And, as Hollywood tradition dictated, they would be given new, marquee-suitable names.
During the elimination period in Hollywood, the male and female finalists acted in scenes broadcast live Sundays over CBS Radio, with the home audience spurred to tune in the following week to find out:
"Who will be Terry Belmont?"
"Who will be Gale Storm?"
If young Josephine Cottle was Cinderella, her Prince Charming was her male co-winner, the newly christened Terry Belmont: Lee Bonnell, a handsome Indiana University drama student from South Bend, Ind.
In 1941, Storm married Bonnell, who became an insurance executive after a short-lived film career. Their marriage lasted until Bonnell's death in 1986 and produced three sons and a daughter.
Beginning with "Tom Brown's School Days" in 1940, Storm appeared in 36 movies during the next dozen years. Dropped by RKO after six months and two pictures, she appeared in a variety of B-movies at Republic, Monogram, Allied Artists and Universal.
Among her film credits, which included musical comedies, film noir dramas and westerns (three with Roy Rogers), are starring roles in films such as "Freckles Comes Home," "Where Are Your Children?," "Campus Rhythm," "G.I. Honeymoon," "Sunbonnet Sue," "Swing Parade of 1946," and "It Happened on 5th Avenue."
But by the early '50s, her movie career was in a slump and she was resigned to devoting herself to her family full time when she received a call from producer Hal Roach Jr., who wanted her for the lead in a proposed TV series, "My Little Margie."
Her success with "My Little Margie" -- and a radio version with original episodes -- led to her being approached to do a nightclub act in Las Vegas during the summers of 1953 and 1954. After hearing Storm sing on one live TV show, Dot Records signed her to a contract.
Her first record, the rhythm and blues song "I Hear You Knocking," soared to No. 2 on the Billboard chart in 1955. Other Top 20 hits followed, including "Teenage Prayer," "Memories Are Made of This," "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?," "Ivory Tower" and "Dark Moon."
Storm, who received three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame recognizing her work in TV, radio and recordings, saw her career decline dramatically after her second series ended in 1960.
(courtesy Gord Lansdell at Northwest Broadcasters)
Former CJOR, CFUN and CKO-FM announcer, Mel Christian, died at St. Paul's hospital in Vancouver Monday afternoon. He was 62. He also worked at stations in southern Ontario during the 1970s. He read news and then was the beat and crime reporter at CFUN Vancouver from 1980-85, before becoming the engineer at CJUP Langley. He retired from broadcasting in 1999 and was most recently living in Ashcroft, B.C.
Last time I saw Mel was years ago I think it was at the CKO Vancouver studios. Also ran into him at CFGO Ottawa, he walked off with a big boat anchor Northern Electric console from the CKPM days as I remember.
We make plans and God smiles, maybe face book is a good thing, fewer people will disappear out of your life as the years go by.
Actor Karl Malden dies at 97 Role in A Streetcar Named Desire earned Oscar courtesy CBC.ca Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | 4:53 PM ET
Karl Malden, one of Hollywood's strongest supporting actors, died at his Los Angeles home on Wednesday. He was 97.
His death was announced by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, of which he was president from 1989 to 1992.
Malden's screen credits include How the West Was Won and Birdman of Alcatraz (both 1962), and Patton (1970).
He won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Blanche's earnest suitor, Mitch, in the 1951 screen adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire. He had previously played the part on Broadway.
He was nominated for another Oscar in 1954 for his role as a priest in On the Waterfront.
He successfully made the transition to television, and his role of Lt. Mike Stone on the ABC police drama The Streets of San Francisco, which ran from 1972 to 1977, earned him four consecutive Emmy nominations as lead actor in a drama series.
He finally won an Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or special as a man who begins to suspect that his daughter was murdered by her husband in the fact-based 1984 miniseries Fatal Vision.
'Don't leave home without it' But Malden may be best remembered for the series of American Express travellers' cheque commercials he made between 1973 and 1994.
"After 50 years of doing all those other things in the business, wherever I go, the one thing people say to me is, 'Don't leave home without it,' " Malden said to the Los Angeles Times in 1989.
Born Mladen Sekulovich in Chicago, the son of an immigrant mother from what would later become Czechoslovakia and a Serbian father, he spoke little English until he was five.
He made his acting debut when he was a teenager in Serbian plays his father staged in a church basement, usually playing heavies with a black, fake mustache.
After high school, he worked in the steel mills in Gary, Ind., for three years.
Malden last appeared on screen in a 2000 episode of The West Wing.