As a teen, he created his own comic books using spirit duplication, and also co-founded a popular comic book club in St. Louis. Later, he made his own amateur three-film series with his brother Charles Gale, parodies of the Republic Pictures Commando Cody serials (using the character name "Commando Cus"), the last two of which also in collaboration with his friend the late Richard Rosenberg. (Rosenberg had taken over the series with the third, Commando Cus vs. Kung Fu Killers 1973, in which Gale made a cameo appearance as the title character without his face-covering helmet, and was working on a fourth, The 100% All-Beef Doom, at the time of his death.) A reference to these was included in the Back to the Future films, as "Cusco Industries", the employer of the future Marty McFly.
While in university he wrote fanzine reviews for classmate Mike Glyer's first fanzine. Gale received a B.A. in Cinema from the University of Southern California in 1973, meeting classmate Zemeckis while both were undergrads. As scriptwriters, the two have collaborated on films including 1941, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Used Cars, and Trespass, the last set in East St. Louis, Illinois near Gale's home town.
In 2002, Gale debuted as a feature-film director with Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road. He had previously directed, as well as written, the 45-minute theatrical release Mr. Payback: An Interactive Movie. Gale has also written for comics, including Marvel Comics' Daredevil and DC Comics' Batman, and wrote the novelization for his movie 1941.
References to Gale
- In Back to the Future Part III, the editor of the Hill Valley Telegraph is identified on a sign as "M. R. Gale", as well as in the Back to the Future Part III novelization where Emmett Brown and Marty cross over Gale Ridge.
- In BTTF: The Animated Series episode "Verne's New Friend", one of the owners of the Bob Brothers All-Star International Circus, Bob Brothers was a reference to Gale.
- Another reference is made to him in Back to the Future: The Game' with the Law Offices of Gale, Zemeckis, & Fine.
Casting in Gale's other films
*Marc McClure and Wendie Jo Sperber (who would later portray Linda McFly and Dave McFly) both appeared in I Wanna Hold Your Hand, as did Jeffrey Weissman (George McFly in Part II and Part III), in an uncredited role, and Ivy Bethune, who would later be the "Clock Tower Lady")
*Sperber, McClure, Taylor and Flaherty were also in Used Cars, as was Deborah Harmon (the newscaster seen at the start of Part I). Robert Zemeckis collaborated with Gale on all three films.