Oh, Susanna

TV classics: The Gale Storm Show

USA 1956-60, 4 seasons,  143 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, CBS and ABC, black & white. Created by: Lee Karson. Cast: Gale Storm, ZaSu Pitts, Roy Roberts and James Fairfax.

Plot summary: As a cruise director, Susanna Pomeroy sees the world and meets people from all around, including guest stars such as Pat Boone.

Gale StormReview: Two decades before Love Boat would hoist its sails to become a family favorite for almost a decade, The Gale Storm Show (aka Oh, Susanna) premiered on CBS, featuring  the popular singer/actress as cruise director Susanna Pomeroy. Traveling the world on a ship, the show’s star was supported by silent film veteran ZaSu Pitts as the title character’s best friend Elvira Nugent, as well as by recurring crew members Roy Roberts (as Captain Huxley)  and James Fairfax. Berthing in different harbors each week, Susanna and Nugie went on new adventures in exciting countries and cities, meeting interesting locals and colorful guests.

Designed as a sitcom with variety elements, Gale Storm did not only get a chance to attract her audience as an actress and comedienne, but also as the talented cover songstress she had developed into after the completion of her first television success, My Little Margie. Her trademark whistle, although used differently in both hit shows, is one of many memories her fans still associate with Gale Storm and her infectious on screen personality. Always good-natured, wholesome and amusing, Gale Storm was a wonderful entertainer who brought her fans a lot of laughter and joy when TV was still in its infancy. Today, only twenty-four episodes of The Gale Storm Show are available on DVD, an unfortunate fact that deprives old fans and new ones of the full glory and glamor of a lovely program named after its versatile leading lady.

 

The Approaching New Year

With the new year fast approaching, I’ve decided to have a look at 2012 because I may love vintage but I rather look ahead than back. So what’s cooking?!

On January 17th, America’s sweetheart Betty White is going to complete another decade. She’ll be turning  ninety. I know she just recently said that’s not an accomplishment but that it just happened, bless her for  counting her blessings like that. But still. Ninety is quite a milestone. And with her popularity, filmography  and attitude she definitely outshines an entire studio full of performers less than half her age.

 

On April 18th then, my personal Tinseltown darling, RKO’s 1940s starlet and Perry Mason‘s renowned girl Friday, Barbara Hale, will join Ms. White, my N Hollywood grandma and their club of Fabulous at Ninety. Although long retired, well-deserved and (apparently) happily so, Ms. Hale is still fondly remembered by Della Street fans and classic cinéastes from around the globe. More and more of her work has been published on DVD or online in recent years and I sincerely hope that 2012 will reveal more of her bubbly warmth for us all to enjoy.

Then several films and TV shows will celebrate their anniversaries. Here are some examples:

  • Ironside (1967-75, NBC)
  • The Lucy Show (1962-68, CBS)
  • My Little Margie (1952-55, CBS & NBC)
  • Perry Mason TV show (1957-66, CBS)
  • A Likely Story (1947, RKO, directed by H.C. Potter, starring Barbara Hale and Bill Williams)
  • The First Time (1952, Columbia, directed by Frank Tashlin, starring Robert Cummings and Barbara Hale)
  • Ivanhoe (1952, MGM, directed by Richard Thorpe, starring Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor)
  • The Miracle Worker (1962, United Artists, directed by Arthur Penn, starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke)
  • Pat & Mike (1952, MGM, directed by George Cukor, starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey)
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952, MGM, directed by Stanley Donen, starring Gene Kelley and Debbie Reynolds)
  • That Touch of Mink (1962, Universal, directed by Delbert Mann, starring Cary Grant and Doris Day)
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962, Warner Bros., directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Bette Davis & Joan Crawford)

Of course there are many many more, e.g. Bambi (1942), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Mrs. Miniver (1942) or To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). Also other TV shows like The Carol Burnett Show (1967-78) or The Flying Nun (1967-70).

The legendary Barbara Stanwyck had her screen debut as a fan dancer in Broadway Nights eighty-five years ago. She would’ve turned one-hundred and five on July 16th, Raymond Burr ninety-five on May 21st.

I could continue this list ad infinitum. But I rather wish you a smooth start into the new year and hope you’re looking forward to all the vintage treats that will be revisited and adored on this blog in the up-coming leap year.

Bless y’all!

Vintage Christmas

So this is it, only one day left till Christmas Eve.  Let’s doll up and spend the holidays with some of those joyful classics. Have yourself a charming vintage Christmas. And bless y’all!

Christmas songs:

Christmas TV episodes:

Christmas radio:

My Little Margie

TV classics: My Little Margie

USA 1952-55, 4 seasons,  126 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, CBS and NBC, black & white. Created by: Frank Fox, Theme music composer: Alexander Lazlo. Cast: Gale Storm, Charles Farrell

Plot summary: 21-year-old Margie lives with her widowed father Verne Albright. With their darling quirks and tics, they are a family like none other.

Review: My Little Margie was a sitcom that started as a summer replacement for I Love Lucy and lasted for four full seasons on its own merit, switching channels in its third year from CBS to NBC. Circling around twenty-two-year-old Margie and her life with her widowed father, the show introduced a rather unusual family to the screen. Back in the 50s, families were more traditionally depicted with a mother, father and their two or three children; well-known examples surely are The Donna Reed Show or Father Knows Best.

My Little Margie featured thirty-year-old Gale Storm as Margie who did her best at giving convincing performances in this screwball-esque show. She was supported by an equally committed Charles Farrell whose Verne Albright was often brought to the brink of sanity by his on-screen daughter and her many mishaps, oddities and darling endeavors. The main characters sometimes teamed up with guest stars such as Gertrude Hoffmann’s Mrs. Odetts, an Ethel-Mirth-inspired sidekick to Margie, or Verne’s boss Mr. Honeywell played by Clarence Kolb. Some episodes also included Margie’s boyfriend Freddy Wilson (Don Hayden) Verne’s many attempts at finding himself a new wife until he finally found Roberta (Hillary Brooke).

All in all, the show was pure entertainment: lovely to watch and relax to for children and their parents alike. Not unlike Life With Elizabeth, Susie or I Married Joan, the show has found a new audience since selected episodes have been released on DVD or channels like youtube. With the rights now in the public domain, it would be fantastic to see more episodes published for old as well as new fans to enjoy. My Little Margie may soon be celebrating its sixtieth birthday but for everyone who’s interested in cultural history it is still a lot of fun to watch.

My Little Margie sample episode