Gail Davis was an American actress, best known for her starring role as Annie Oakley in the 1950s television Western series Annie Oakley.
The daughter of a small town physician, she was born as Betty Jeanne Grayson in a hospital at Little Rock, but raised in McGehee, Arkansas, until her family moved to Little Rock. She had been singing and dancing since childhood. After graduating from high school, she studied at the Harcum Junior College for Girls in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, before completing her education at the University of Texas at Austin. At Austin she met and married her first husband, Bob Davis, with whom she had a daughter, Terrie.
She and her husband moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in motion pictures. Mrs. Davis told an interviewer how she acquired her professional acting name. “I went under contract to MGM around 1946. They told me ‘we can’t have a Betty Davis, because of Bette Davis, and we can’t have a Betty Grayson because of Kathryn Grayson’. Then a guy in the casting department said ‘how about Gail Davis?’ So that’s where it came from.”
In 1947 she made her motion picture debut in a comedy film short. She then appeared in minor roles in another four films until landing a supporting role under star Roy Rogers in a 1948 Western film, The Far Frontier. Between 1948 and 1953, Davis appeared in more than three dozen films, all but three of which were in the Western genre, including twenty films with or for the production company of the singing cowboy star, Gene Autry.