In 1985, I bought a home in the Hollywood Hills...
Because of its location, a lot of people in the movie industry lived nearby. In fact, my home was the final home owned by Bela Lugosi (“Is he still dead?” a friend of mine once asked me). Not long after I bought the house, I took a walk up the street to see an open house, to check out the neighbors. As I was walking through the house, I saw all kinds of photos of Gene Autry with Gail Davis, who I always liked as Annie Oakley. Then I realized that the owner of the house was Gail Davis. She and I became friends. When I moved away she sent me a lovely letter, telling me how much safer she felt, knowing that I was her neighbor. In 1995, when I wrote her to say that I was moving back to work for Notre Dame Football she sent a nice note with a P.S. “Tell Lou Holtz I said hello. I’m an Arkie and I have followed his career ever since he coached at Arkansas”.
The daughter of a small town physician, she was born as Betty Jeanne Grayson in a hospital at Little Rock, but was raised inMcGehee, Arkansas, until her family moved to Little Rock. She had been singing and dancing since childhood. After graduating from high school, she studied at the Harcum Junior College for Girls in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, before completing her education at theUniversity of Texas at Austin. At Austin she met and married her first husband, Bob Davis, with whom she had a daughter, Terrie.
She and her husband moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in motion pictures. Mrs. Davis told an interviewer how she acquired her professional acting name. "I went under contract to MGM around 1946. They told me 'we can't have a Betty Davis, because of Bette Davis, and we can't have a Betty Grayson because of Kathryn Grayson'.... Then a guy in the casting department said 'how about Gail Davis?' So that's where it came from."
In 1947 she made her motion picture debut in a comedy film short. She then appeared in minor roles in another four films until landing a supporting role under star Roy Rogers in a 1948 Western film, The Far Frontier. Between 1948 and 1953, Davis appeared in more than three dozen films, all but three of which were in the Western genre, including twenty films with or for the production company of the singing cowboy star, Gene Autry.
Davis and her second husband, Carl Edward Guerriero, retired to the San Fernando Valley. During her retirement Davis made guest appearances at western memorabilia shows and film festivals. Her last public appearance was in 1994, when she received theGolden Boot Award from the Motion Picture and Television Fund.