Wednesday, July 1, 2009

R.I.P. Gale Storm and Karl Malden

The Grim Reaper continues to take its toll on the entertainment world. On Saturday, actress and singer Gale Storm died at the age of 87. In the "out of sight, out of mind" world of pop culture, Storm is somewhat obscure today. However, in the 1950s, she was one of the biggest stars around. From 1952-1955, Gale starred in the sitcom My Little Margie. I discovered this show as a kid one summer via Detroit independent station WKBD Channel 50. Storm played the title character, who was always involved in the personal life of her widower father Vern. Margie even had her own Ethel Mertz in the form of elderly neighbor Mrs. Odetts. Although critics weren't kind to the show, I thought it was pretty funny. A year after My Little Margie ended, Gale began a 4-year run as the star of her own self-titled sitcom. As Susanna Pomeroy, social director aboard the S.S. Ocean Queen, you could say that Storm's character was a precursor to Julie McCoy of The Love Boat. After The Gale Storm Show ended in 1960, she appeared in several stage productions and did guest shots on such series as Murder, She Wrote and the aforementioned The Love Boat.

In addition to her acting successes, Gale Storm was also a recording star. From 1955-1957, she made the Billboard chart 12 times (including six top 10 hits). If you'd like to learn more about the life and career of Gale Storm, please visit her Official Site.

Below is a recording of her final chart hit, Dark Moon (which peaked at #4 in 1957).

On Wednesday, Oscar-winning actor Karl Malden died at the age of 97. My introduction to Karl was through watching his hit series The Streets of San Francisco (1972-1977) in which he starred as Det. Lt. Mike Stone. In addition to its memorable theme song (which you can hear in the You Tube Player below), I enjoyed the chemistry between Malden and a young Michael Douglas (who played his partner, Inspector Steve Keller, for the first 4 years of the series).

Years before The Streets of San Francisco, Karl had a long and successful career on the big screen. Among his notable films are A Streetcar Named Desire (earning him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), On the Waterfront, Baby Doll, Gypsy, Birdman of Alcatraz, The Cincinnati Kid, and Patton. His last acting role was in a 2000 episode of The West Wing.

Beginning during the run of The Streets of San Francisco, Malden solidified his status as a pop culture icon through his role as spokesman for American Exprerss Traveler's Cheques. His catchphrase in the commercials ("Don't leave home without them") is one that I occasionally use to this day. The items that I "don't leave home without" are my cell phone, a bottle of lotion, and Vaseline Lip Therapy. You can watch one of Karl's AMEX spots in the player below.


pussreboots said...

Aww. That's a shame. My local station has been playing Streets of SF reruns in the daytime and I sometimes watch. I've read and reviewed the novel that inspired the series.

PopArtDiva said...

I watched the original airings of My Little Margie and The Gale Storm Show, though I was very young during My Little Margie it actually stuck out in my mind more than her second series for some reason.

Karl Malden, of course, was the ultimate character actor and, like most people now, I remember him most in The Streets of San Francisco.

This has been quite a sad few weeks for Hollywood.

pjazzypar said...

I remember "My Little Margie" well. I must have saw it rerun though. Karl Malden was the man. One of my favorite roles he portrayed was the detective that was in love with Bette Davis, "Dead Ringer". The studio executives advised him to fix his nose, but he refused.

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