"The Golden Age of Radio"
(As originally broadcast on WTIC, Hartford, CT)

Click on the link below to hear

Program 40 - July, 1973 - Gale Storm and Barbara Britton

       Gale Storm                             Barbara Britton
Our guests were primarily stars in other media, but there will be plenty of talk about old-time radio.

Gale Storm is perhaps best known as Margie on the hit television show, MY LITTLE MARGIE.  But her career encompasses much more -- she has maintained a very successful recording career, in addition to her radio, motion picture, theatre, night club, and television performances.

She was born Josephine Owaissa Cottle in Bloomington, Texas in 1922. While in her junior year at San Jacinto High School, Gale was persuaded by a dramatic teacher to enter a national radio contest called " Gateway to Hollywood". It was this contest that first brought Gale into the professional acting ranks with a trip to Hollywood, a motion picture contract at RKO and the name, "Gale Storm."

Gale Storm made her debut on records in the fall of 1955 on Dot Records. Within four months three of her songs were among the top twenty best sellers in the nation. How was Gale Storm, the singer, discovered? A ten-year old girl named Linda Wood , from the small town of Gallatin, Tennessee, happened to have the volume on her TV set turned up a little higher than normal one night while she was watching a Sunday night Comedy Hour Show. On this particular show, the host was Gordon MacRae, and the guest star was Gale Storm. While Gale was singing one of the popular songs of the day, the sound of her voice drifted into the dining room where Linda's mother and father were dining in the company of family friends.

"Who is that singing, dear?' inquired Linda's dad.

"It's 'My Little Margie', dad. Gale Storm," Linda replied.

Linda's dad happened to be Randy Wood, the president of Dot Records. He liked the sound of Gale's voice. Wood called Gale immediately, without waiting for the program to go off the air. The rest is history.

Born in Long Beach, California, in September 1919 (some sources suggest 1920 as her date of birth), pretty Barbara Britton was raised in Long Beach and started college there. By chance she was discovered for films when a talent scout spotted her photo in a newspaper, and soon afterward she signed a contract with Paramount. Her first film for the studio was the Hopalong Cassidy western Secrets of the Wasteland (1941; with William Boyd and Andy Clyde). The studio brought Britton along in several minor roles but soon gave her bigger ones in Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1942; with Fay Bainter and Hugh Herbert), So Proudly We Hail! (1943; with Claudette Colbert and Veronica Lake), and Till We Meet Again (1944; with Ray Milland). Britton left Paramount in 1945 and freelanced for the remainder of her film career, often in westerns.

As for Ms. Britton's radio career: according to Jack French: "However, she and Richard Denning (Jerry North) continued in the series.....on radio. As I point out in my book, "Private Eyelashes" CBS in late 1954 replaced longtime radio leads, Alice Frost and Joseph Curtin, with Britton and Denning at the microphones. It didn't help the ratings and this version lasted only five months.

"Richard Lockridge, with his wife, Frances, was responsible for the creation of "Mr. and Mrs. North" and their  twenty-six novels published over three decades. Since Pam North was a thinly disguised version of his own wife, Lockeridge had very definite opinions on who played her in various media. He loved Peggy Conklin, who did the North's stage version, but hated Gracie Allen's portrayal of Pam in the 1941 MGM movie.

"However it must have been Britton whom he admired the most. A fascinating anecdote regarding Britton did not come to my attention until after "Private Eyelashes" came off the presses. Lockridge paid Britton the highest compliment he could: in a 1955 short story of the Norths, "Pattern for Murder," he revealed at Pam's high school reunion that her maiden name was 'Britton.' "

In 1945, Britton married a psychiatrist, with whom she would raise a family of four. Nonetheless, unlike many actress of the period, she continued to work and acted in numerous films in the late 1940s and early 1950s, including the westerns The Virginian (1946), Albuquerque (1948), and Ride the Man Down (1952). She also acted in the early 3-D adventure Bwana Devil (1952). She temporarily put her film career on hold when she was cast in the NBC comedy/mystery TV series Mr. & Mrs. North, returning to films when NBC canceled the series in 1954. Ms. Britton died in 1980.

Note: This is a large file; it may take a long time to load.
You can save the file to your hard drive by placing your curser over the link,
pressing the right mouse button, and selecting "save target as . . ."
With a T1, cable modem, or DSL this might take 1-3 minutes.

Program 40 - July, 1973 - Gale Storm and Barbara Britton

Return to Log of Programs