June 29, 2009

Actress, singer Gale Storm dies at 87

The vivacious U.S. actress Gale Storm, whose career spanned movies, television, radio and recordings, has died at age 87, her son said.

Storm died of natural causes Saturday at a convalescent hospital in Danville, Calif., her son Peter Bonnell told the Los Angeles Times.

Storm, whose real name was Josephine Cottle, is best remembered as the star of the television situation comedy My Little Margie and its follow-up, The Gale Storm Show: Oh! Susanna, between 1952 and 1960. A 1953 a poll listed her as television's most popular star following comedienne Lucille Ball, the Times said.

In 1939 as a pert and pretty teenager from Houston, she won a radio talent contest promising a part in an RKO Studios movie. She and her fellow contestant, Lee Bonnell, married in 1941.

Her success in television also spawned a singing career, in which her very first record, the rhythm and blues song I Hear You Knocking, zoomed to No. 2 on the Billboard chart in 1955, the Times said.

The newspaper said that in addition to her son Peter, Storm is survived by sons Phillip and Paul and daughter Susanna Harrigan. She is also survived by eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.