Little known singer/actress Gale Robbins was a knockout-looking hazel-eyed redhead who made a slight dent in post-war Hollywood. Born Betty Gale Robbins in Chicago, Illinois (some say Mitchell, Indiana) on May 7, 1921, she was the daughter of Arthur E. and Blanche Robbins, and educated at Chicago’s Jennings Seminary at Aurora, Illinois and Flower Tech. Gale had a natural flair for music and appeared in glee clubs and church choirs in the early days. She graduated from her Chicago high school in 1939.
She started out in entertainment as a model for the Vera Jones Modeling School in Chicago, but her singing talents soon took over. Signed by a talent agency, she sang with Phil Levant’s outfit in 1940 and later teamed with some male singers for a swing band that called themselves “The Duchess and Her Dukes.” She went on to work with some of the top radio and live ‘big bands’ of that era including the Ben Bernie, Jan Garber and Hal Kemp orchestras.
20th Century-Fox caught sight of this slim looker and quickly signed her up, her first film being the pleasant time-filler “In the Meantime, Darling” (1944). A semi-popular cheesecake pin-up, Gale appeared on the cover of “Yank, The Army Weekly” in 1944 and toured with Bob Hope in Europe the next year. Her post-war parts, mostly sultry second leads, were typically lightweight in nature. She was often lent out to other studios and not always in a singing mode. Gale’s better known film work includes “Race Street” (1948), “The Barkleys of Broadway” (1949), “Three Little Words” (1950), “The Fuller Brush Girl” (1950) and “Calamity Jane” (1953).
Gale went on to host the “Hollywood House” (1949) and also appeared on “The Colgate Comedy Hour” (1950) in 1951. In the late 50s the gal with the smooth and sexy vocal style released an easy-listening album (“I’m a Dreamer”) for the Vik Label backed by Eddie Cano & His Orchestra. She covered such standards as “Them There Eyes” and “What Is This Thing Called Love.” After her final film appearance in “Quantrill’s Raiders” (1958) and a few additional TV parts, Gale phased out her career to focus full-time on raising her family.
Married to her high school sweetheart Robert Olson in December of 1943 while he was serving in the Air Force, her husband turned to construction engineering as a career and they had two children. After he was tragically killed in a 1968 building accident, Gale, left with two daughters to raise, decided to make a comeback of sorts. Besides appearing in nightclubs, she was glimpsed in the film “Stand Up and Be Counted” (1972) and appeared on stage in Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company” in 1975.
Gale Robbins died of lung cancer on February 18, 1980 (aged 58) in Los Angeles, California.