Josephine Owaissa Cottle, better known as Gale Storm, was an American actress and singer, who starred in two popular television programs of the 1950s, My Little Margie and The Gale Storm Show.
Storm was born in Bloomington in Victoria County, Texas. The youngest of five children, she had two brothers and two sisters. Her father, William Walter Cottle, died after a year-long illness when she was just seventeen months old, and her mother, Minnie Corina Cottle, struggled to raise the children alone. One of her sisters gave Josephine the middle name “Owaissa,” an American Indian word meaning “bluebird.” Storm’s mother Minnie took in sewing, then opened a millinery shop in McDade, Texas, which failed, and finally moved the family to Houston. Storm learned to be an accomplished dancer and became an excellent ice skater at Houston’s Polar Palace. She performed in the drama club at both Albert Sidney Johnston Junior High School and San Jacinto High School.
When she was 17 years old, two of her teachers urged her to enter a contest on Gateway to Hollywood, broadcast from the CBS Radio studios in Hollywood, California. First prize was a one-year contract with a movie studio. She won and was immediately given the stage name Gale Storm. Her performing partner, Lee Bonnell from South Bend, Indiana, became known as Terry Belmont.
After winning the contest in 1940, Storm made several films for the studio, RKO Radio Pictures. Her first was Tom Brown’s School Days, playing opposite Jimmy Lydon and Freddie Bartholomew. She worked steadily in low-budget films released during this period. In 1941 she sang in several Soundies, three-minute musicals produced for “movie jukeboxes.”